CHARLOTTE, N.C. — — Jordan Williams' progress as a basketball player is apparent by what is gone, as well as what is visible.
Maryland's gifted sophomore forward is 21 pounds lighter than last season after a summer of working out and reshaping his body.
"It's been a great change for me," Williams said Wednesday at the Atlantic Coast Conference's Operation Basketball. "On the court, I feel 10 times better. All around, I just feel great."
The 6-foot-9 1/2 Williams is a comfortable 255 pounds now, compared to the 276 pounds he carried last season. A summer under strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci, along with the encouragement of teammates, has him looking like a different player.
"He worked the whole summer, not taking days off," said senior forward Dino Gregory(Mount St. Joseph). "That's what happens when you don't take days off. You get better, you get slimmer, you get stronger. You see the benefits of working hard."
The hard work began with Williams, the ACC's No. 2 rebounder a year ago and an All-Freshman team selection. He was just the third freshman in school history with 250 points and 250 rebounds in a season, joining Joe Smith and Buck Williams.
"First of all, it's me wanting to do it," Williams said of his body makeover. "If I don't want to do it, then I'm not going to do it. Also, it's the motivation from my coaches and my teammates — them motivating me to want to be great."
The Terps will be a decidedly different team than the one that shared the ACC's regular-season title with Duke and was a Michigan State 3-pointer at the buzzer away from a trip to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.
Gone are ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes, all 1,000-point scorers. Junior swingman Sean Mosley (St. Frances) and Williams are the Terps' two most productive returning players on a team with six new faces.
"Last year, he did a great job for us," coach Gary Williams said, "because we needed somebody. I thought we had some pieces, but we needed an inside player who could score. So he proved he could do that because he's got really good hands and we were able to get him the ball. Now, teams are more aware of him this year, so we'll have to do more so that they can't shut him down."
Williams talked about pressing and running more than last season. He said that could help the leaner, better conditioned Jordan Williams get into scoring position more often than relying on half-court grind-fests with relatively inexperienced guards.
"It's up to us now to figure out a way to get him the ball," Gary Williams said. "It's one thing when you have a Vasquez; he's got the ball to start with, so that's not the problem. The problem this year'll be to get Jordan the ball. How do we that? Well, you've got to make some shots so the defense has to spread, and then you have to have guys who can find the open man in the offense, at that time he's open, and that doesn't last very long. So, we've got our work cut out for us."
Jordan Williams understands that more will be expected of him, and he'll have to demonstrate other facets of his game.
"He's a great passer," Gregory said. "People don't know that about him, but he's an extremely good passer. If you cut to the basket, he'll find you right away."
Given Williams' numbers as a freshman, his gregarious nature and the Terps' roster, it's natural for him to assume a leadership role.
"Every year, it's my job to get better," he said. "Not just for myself, but as a team. It's my job to motivate these players. I'm taking on that role because I want to be great. I know our team wants to be great. I know that everyone's excited about this year."
2010-11 ACC Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
1. Duke (61)
2. Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina (1)
4. NC State
5. Florida State
9. Georgia Tech
10. Boston College
12. Wake Forest
2010-11 ACC Preseason All-Conference Team
Kyle Singler, Duke(unanimous)
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech
Nolan Smith, Duke
Tracy Smith, NC State
Chris Singleton, Florida State
2010-11 ACC Preseason Player of the Year
Kyle Singler, Duke (38 of 62 votes)
2010-11 ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year
Harison Barnes, North Carolina (46 of 62 ballots)