Brian Williams still doesn't completely trust his shot, yet that was never the best part of his game anyway.
Not to say Williams isn't an offensive threat, because he can be, especially once he's fully healed from the wrist surgery that delayed his season debut until the end of January. But energy and athletic and versatile and defense — oh, yeah, the defense — best define him.
And for now, that will do quite well.
Williams isn't filling the starting role expected before fracturing his wrist in the preseason.
But he is filling a need and a role, suddenly looking an X Factor for the No. 15 Cowboys as they head toward the postseason.
“Yeah, I consider myself that,” Williams said of the X Factor tag. “I just try to come off the bench whenever coach feels he needs me in the game and try to make plays.”
And Travis Ford is feeling the need more and more, with Williams now averaging 15.3 minutes since his return nine games ago.
“Love Brian Williams,” Ford said. “I'm itching to get him in the game usually, because I know he's going to get a steal, deflection. And he can guard anybody. He can. He can guard anybody on the court.
“And he does it with great energy. And more importantly, he wants to. He loves that role.”
It's a role Williams has fully embraced, after the initial word was that he'd miss the entire season after tearing up his left wrist while trying to brace a crash to the court following a dunk in October.
And it's an added layer to an already talented Oklahoma State team that features four double-digit scorers and one of the nation's top statistical defenses.
“Having a guy off the bench who can play like a starter, that's great,” said teammate Le'Bryan Nash.
And Williams has made an impact in a variety of ways. Six points in eight minutes of an overtime win over Baylor. Six points and a steal in a road win at Texas. Thirteen points and six rebounds in a road win at West Virginia, stepping into the void created when Marcus Smart was saddled with early foul trouble. Nine points on 4-of-7 shooting in Saturday's win over Texas, pushing OSU to 22-6 overall, 12-4 in the Big 12.
And those are only the tangible stats, which don't tell the story of how he affects games with his defense.
“With him it's, ‘Go get this guy.' And he's going to almost sic em,” Ford said. “He gets after it.
Love his energy level.
“Still not near where he was last year, but slowly getting back. But he's looking good. And he's definitely helping us.”
For the Cowboys, it's the equivalent of an NBA deadline deal, much like acquiring an asset for the stretch run. OSU's established rotation has proved to be strong, with Smart, Nash and Markel Brown forming a sort of Big Three and Michael Cobbins emerging in the post. Then there's Philip Jurick and Phil Forte and Kirby Gardner.
And now Williams, too.
“I feel like I'm starting to get back a little bit, getting more comfortable out there,” Williams said.
And there's still room for more, much more if his estimation of being at “60, 70 percent” is true.
“I feel like the offense isn't going to be there every night, because of the wrist,” Williams said. “But I feel like I can help out defensively every night. Wherever coach puts me, I just try to make a point not to let them score their average or get close to their average.”
And what a valuable commodity for the Cowboys.
An X Factor.