Macalester transfer Caleb Williams on joining Gophers: 'I have a passion for Minnesota'

After dropping 41 points on the Gophers in an exhibition last year, Macalester transfer Caleb Williams will play his final season at Minnesota next year. (University of Minnesota Athletics)

The last time Caleb Williams was at Williams Arena, he put up 41 points against the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team in an exhibition game last November.

Williams is set to graduate this weekend from Macalester with a degree in mathematics and physics. Later this summer, he’s trading his Scots’ gear for Gophers’ maroon and gold. Williams entered the NCAA transfer portal after Macalester’s season and was in contact with several schools, but last week signed with Ben Johnson and Minnesota.

Turns out his 41-point night wasn’t even a career-high. He put up 51 later in the season at Concordia-Moorhead.

"My teammates know if those first couple go in, it’s going to be pretty hard to stop me. So when I saw those first three or four shots go in, I was like ‘ooof, this could be a good night,’" Williams said. "The rest is history, it was definitely a surreal feeling walking out of there."

Williams got his chance with Minnesota after several players left the team after a 19-15 season, likely seeking bigger paydays through name, image and likeness opportunities for college athletes. Elijah Hawkins left the team after stating twice he was returning, and Cam Christie entered the NBA Draft and is also in the transfer portal. Braeden Carrington left the team as well.

Williams had taken an official visit to UC-Davis, and was in contact with Rice and Texas. The Gophers had spots open, and Williams was sold after a visit to campus. 

"I just feel like everybody was great and Coach Johnson was really straight up and down to earth and honest about their situation and what they were trying to do," Williams said. "I just think that puts the team in the best position to win, that’s kind of what drew me in."

Williams led Macalester in scoring three straight seasons. Last year, he averaged 20 points per game and shot 44 percent from the field, 34 percent from the perimeter. He leaves the Scots after scoring 1,556 career points.

So what are Johnson and the Gophers getting in Williams? Depth at guard, and a scorer.

"I consider myself, at the D-3 level I was always a tough shot maker, grenades at the end of the shot clock," Williams said. "I’ve been trying to become better at facilitating and passing, at the end of the day the Gophers are getting a really good shooter. I’m just competitive and a lot more competitive than people anticipate."

The Gophers were projected to be a potential NCAA Tournament team next season if the majority of last year’s roster stayed intact. That’s no longer reality, but it doesn’t mean the Gophers can’t go dancing. The offseason is about chemistry, and meshing all the new faces.

"I’m confident that with some time together, some team activities, that we can build that camaraderie and just be a team and do it for each other. I think they’re building something special there, and that’s kind of why I wanted in," Williams said. "I just have a passion about playing for Minnesota, I’ll do everything I can to keep that culture."


Williams joins a backcourt that will feature returning starter Mike Mitchell Jr., Oregon transfer Brennan Rigsby and incoming freshman Isaac Asuma. Johnson also added Canisius forward Frank Mitchell, Texas-San Antonio transfer Trey Edmonds and New Mexico State forward Femi Odukale.

The Gophers have Dawson Garcia, Parker Fox, Mitchell and Kadyn Betts returning from last year. They still have two scholarships open, and one is presumably for Christie if he decides to return.