All about Donovan Williams’ Game Day Routine

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Donovan Williams after hitting a three-pointer against Nevada during UNLV's rivalry red out game on Feb. 1, 2022 at the Thomas & Mack. Williams' favorite part of the playing at the Mack is the energy of the crowd, especially the energy from the rivalry game. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

For the Runnin’ Rebels second leading scorer, Donovan Williams, a big part of his game day routine is taking time to meditate. 

Before the meditation session, Williams starts his day around 8 or 9 a.m. He then heads straight to the Runnin’ Rebels practice facility to get some shots up and get a feel for the ball before heading home to eat breakfast. 

“For the most part,” Williams said. “I eat what they bring us. They’ll bring us Chick-fil-a, they’ll bring us little chicken sandwiches or chicken biscuits or sausage biscuits. If not, there’s a spot down the street called Blueberry Hill, I’ll go there and I’ll get french toast, eggs, and sausage.”

It’s around 10 when breakfast is over, Donovan goes back to his apartment to chill and watch a little bit of film. On game days, he’ll watch some clips of who he’ll be guarding defensively before watching some T.V. 

“I usually watch the 85 south show, it’s a podcast on Youtube,” Williams said. “Then by that time, we have to be back here [Thomas & Mack] at 2:30 p.m. I always get here about an hour before to work with the trainers to get my body ready and get going for shootaround.”

After shootaround, which ends around 3:30 p.m. if it’s a 7 p.m. tip-off. By this time, the team has around two hours before they have to be back at the arena. During this time, Donovan will either play some video games or take a nap, depending on the mood. 

Williams asked teammate and roommate Mike Nuga, walking by, “Mike, what do we usually do at the crib from like 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on game day?”

Before Mike could answer, Williams said, “Sometimes we’ll play Call of Duty for a little bit, kinda get into that competitive spirit.”

“We’re a four-man bromance,” Nuga said. Nuga, referring to himself, Williams, Royce Hamm Jr, and Josh Baker who are not only teammates but roommates in an apartment here on campus. 

“We’ll go home,” Williams said. “Me, Mike, Josh and Royce and we’ll play a couple games of Call of Duty or if we’re kinda tired we’ll get in a pregame nap.”

Whether it’s playing video games, watching a show, or taking a nap, Donovan will stop whatever he’s doing between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m. to begin his meditation. 

“I do this meditation for manifestation,” Williams said. “So I listen to that, I turn all the lights off in my room and I’ll sit there and meditate. I’ll try to get at least 30 minutes of that in. I do it just to clear my head, I want to come into every game with a clear mind, a full heart, and release all my worries that may be going on and off the court.”

“So then I’ll finish my meditation, and then I have to pick a fit for the game. I’ll go in my closet and they’ll tell us if the media guys are doing pregame fit [photos], so I got to know what I’m gonna put on.”

Donovan laughs as he says it takes him about 15 minutes to decide on his pregame fit before he heads to the arena around 5:30 p.m.

At the beginning of the season, Donovan said he liked to listen to artists like NBA Youngboy, Gunna, and Lil Baby before a game but has since added some new music to his playlist. 

“I’ve added in more R&B,” Williams said. “Especially after I come out of my meditation, on my jog over to the gym I’ll listen to J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, G Herbo, and Future.”

After naming a few of his favorite J Cole songs, which includes Foldin Clothes, 4 Your Eyez Only, and Love Yourz, he got back to his game day routine. 

“I get to the gym at about 5:30, change and everything,” Williams said. “I get my stretching in, and then I’ll go get up shots before we have to be on the court an hour before every game.”

When the team finishes with their pregame routine, which lasts an hour, the team runs out for introductions and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, where Williams gets in one last meditation session. 

Donovan Williams shooting a three-pointer during the rivalry red out game against Nevada, Williams hit four three-pointers during UNLV’s 69-58 win. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

“The last little mindful meditation thing I do is during the Star Spangled Banner,” Williams said. “So if you ever see me during it, my head is usually always down and I have my hands to my side because I take conscious deep breaths. That’s like my last little way to meditate before the game. I do it every game.”

Once the game is over and the press conference finishes up, it’s usually around 10 p.m. or later, but before Donovan goes home, he has to eat.

“Before I go home, I have to eat,” Williams said. “I’ll be hungry after the games.”

After asking where he goes to get food, Williams said, “That usually depends, like I’ll get- there’s a little barbeque spot right down the street. Angry Chicks, that’s right around campus. Sometimes I’ll go down the strip and go to a restaurant that’s in a hotel.”

“Depending on how late it is, I’m gonna be honest, I like McDonalds. I like McDonalds. Get me a triple cheeseburger with no onions.”

On game days, it takes a while for Donovan to fall asleep with all the adrenaline still running from the game, so he’ll usually get to best around 12 or 1. 

“It takes a little bit for the adrenaline from the game to wear off,” Williams said. “So by the time I get home and eat everything, that kinda helps me kinda wind down but there’s still about 30 minutes to an hour where I’m still a little up from the game.”

For away games, the team has a set-up day-to-day schedule with only some decisions like who sits by who on the plane or who rooms with who are made by the players. 

“On the plane, I sit next to Vic [Victor Iwuakor],” Williams said. “Me and Vic take the exit row on the plane and James [Hampshire] is on the other side, so that’s our little flight row.”

“My roommate is always Royce, because Royce was my roommate last year. So he has been my roommate every trip and if they don’t make Royce my roommate, I switch it because It’s bad luck.”

The Runnin’ Rebels are just coming back from an away game where Williams returned to the lineup after dealing with a knee problem the past three games. In limited minutes, Williams scored 5 points in his return against Fresno State, and currently ranks 14th in the Mountain West in points per game.

In his first season at UNLV, Donovan is averaging 14.1 points per game while shooting 49.5% from the field and 45.2% from behind the arc. Not only is he an accurate shooter, he puts on a show with his dunks, which happens at almost every game.

Catch Donovan Williams and the Runnin’ Rebels take on Colorado State on Feb. 19 at the Thomas & Mack, tip-off is set for 5 p.m. Students can get their tickets for free at unlvtickets.com.

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