What’s in a name?
In the case of Xeyrius Williams, it depends on who is telling the story.
“My mom and dad brought together some Greek mythology and came up my name,” the Dayton Flyers 6-foot-8 sophomore forward said Wednesday:
“It was like (Zephyrus) the God of Wind and Zeus, the God of Lightning and then they added in Xerxes, the Persian king, too. They were gonna call me Xeyrus, but my dad thought it needed another syllable. So I became Xeyrius.
“Serious Xeyrius Williams.”
A little later Wednesday, Cliff Williams was asked about his son’s name:
“Oh gosh … well …. he’s named after cologne.
“Yeah, see my wife, she works at Kohl’s department store and they had some Xeryus cologne there. We just added an ‘i’ to it and said, ‘Man, that sounds pretty cool.’ That’s how we came up with Xeyrius. I don’t think he even knows the story.
“But it was the cologne.”
As Shakespeare’s Juliet said to Romeo:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
“By any other name would smell as sweet.”
And to be fair, the Givenchy cologne is said to be named after a Greek titan.
Then there’s the Canadian fragrance guru, Mark Whitson, who describes it on one of his popular YouTube videos:
“Givenchy was looking into getting a bold, strong fragrance just like a Greek god or Greek titan. And this is definitely bold and strong. And it needs a man who is bold and strong and self-confident to wear it.”
And so far this season — more so than last — that self-confident tag is a better fit for Williams.
He joined the Flyers last season after a stellar prep career at Wayne High School that included a 2015 Division I state title for his team and co-MVP honors for him two years in a row and, senior season, a team captaincy and per game averages of 11.8 points and 9.9 rebounds.
But once in the Flyers fold, he was one of just many players filling the bench on Coach Archie Miller’s NCAA Tournament team. He ended up playing in 26 of 33 games and averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds. His best outing was against Iowa when he had seven points and five rebounds while facing his former Wayne teammate, 6-foot-7 Ahmad Wagner.
Last month in the Flyers annual Red and Blue scrimmage, you saw a different Williams than a year ago. He seemed to move on the floor with a little more authority and wasn’t afraid to launch some 3-point shots, something the Flyers need from someone his size.
“We’re trying to focus every day on him bringing a motor, an energy level, at both ends of the floor,” Miller said. “He’s worked hard on his perimeter game and we need him to be able to spot up and make some threes. I’m hoping he (becomes) another added shooter for us.”
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Looking at Williams, he seemed a little bigger than a year ago.
“I’ve definitely gotten bigger and stronger,” he said. “I’ve gained about 20 pounds and weigh something like 213 now.”
Miller said the biggest transition for Williams from high school to the college level was “the physicality of the game.
“He came in at 185 or 190 and now he weighs like 213. Our goal for him was 215 to 220 pounds by his sophomore year. It’s a lot of weight, but he’ll still be slim. He’s that ultimate product of a developmental-style kid who’ll you see the changes over the course of his career. He’s just scratching the surface as far as his potential.”
Cliff said he remembers Miller saying something in the recruiting process about Xeyrius one day weighing about 240.
“His body looks like he could take that, but I’d have to see him like that first,” he said.
With a laugh, he added: “I try to tell the coaches, ‘He’s not like me and his momma. We grew into this’. … But coming out of high school, I was just as thin at Xeyrius was.”
Cliff said he now weighs “about 335.”
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A cement truck driver, Cliff came from La Marque, Texas near Galveston to Central State on a football offer. Xeyrius’s mom, Kay, was an athlete at Catholic Central High in Springfield before attending the University of Cincinnati.
Xeyrius’s older sister, Shatila, was a standout volleyball player at Springfield South and his younger sister, Alisa, now plays basketball at Springfield Shawnee.
Although he drew offers from several Division I schools, especially, he said, in the Mid-American Conference, Williams chose Dayton because of “the winning tradition,” the plans Miller said he had for him and the proximity to his family, which lives in Springfield and is able to come to his home games.
“He had gone to the basketball camps at Dayton and then once he saw the campus he was sold,” Cliff said.
At UD, Williams has also made his mark as a Spanish student.
“I’ve studied it all through school and I was sort of like our translator when our team went to Spain this summer,” he said. “One day after basketball maybe I could work for the government as a translator.”
And he claims he’s the team’s “best” video game player.
“I’m pretty good,” he said. “If it weren’t for basketball, I even thought about being part of Major League Gaming, where you’re paid to play video games.
“When I was younger, my mom used to get on me about how much I liked video games … but you know? It keeps me out of trouble.”
If his video skills set him apart from his teammates, so does that name.
“I love it,” he said. “It is different and I think I grew into it.”
Still, he said there are plenty of people who have trouble pronouncing it. But even that’s not all bad.
“Girls don’t know how to say my name,” he smiled. “So it’s always a pretty good conversation starter.”
And should he also be wearing the Xeryus cologne?
Like Juliet said:
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