Laying the foundation: The legacy of Des and Marcus

Desmond Williams (left) and Marcus Barham (right)
combine for 912 of FAMU's 1,882 total points this season
Photo credit: Sydne Vigille

“You can never build nothing if you don’t have a foundation. So, I want to be one of the foundations, one of the founding people, to help escalate the program.”

Those words came from senior forward Desmond Williams, one half of a superstar duo for Florida A&M’s men’s basketball team. The other half of that duo is senior guard Marcus Barham, and together, they have been the driving force of FAMU basketball they stepped on campus.

The two first met not at FAMU as teammates, but on the court as opponents. Barham at the time was attending Wallace State College in Hanceville, Alabama and Williams were attending Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville, Alabama.

“Our first-time meeting was us beating them in Juco [junior college],” said Barham, a Melbourne native. “As soon as we got up here (FAMU), that’s when we met. Since the first day [we met], that’s been my dog ever since.”

The two transferred to FAMU at the same time and it did not take long for them to find their chemistry. With each of their respective games meshing well together, it is no surprise that they like playing with each other.

“I already had seen him play in Juco and I knew he could shoot the ball,” said Williams. “When we got here together and I was like, ‘we could really be on some Lebron and Wade stuff’ like a one-two combo.”

With Barham’s ability to shoot lights out and Williams’ ability to rebound and attack the rim, the two were immediately productive together. The pair got their first start at FAMU in the 2016-2017 season. Williams averaged about 16 points and six rebounds while his counterpart averaged about 13 points and nearly 40 percent from three-point range.

Like every great duo, the two superstars only get better the more they play with each other. Only a year after their time playing together their productivity has gone up. Williams is averaging 18 points a game while still grabbing six boards per game, and Barham is now averaging around 17 points a game.

“Averaging 17 and 18, it’s almost identical,” said Williams. “We go out on the court and we tell each other ‘let’s get a bucket’ and it’s not me competing against him or him competing against me. It’s I know what you can do and I expect you to do it and he knows what I can do and expects me to do it. Let’s do what we have to do to make the team win.”

Des and Marcus do whatever it takes to win, including averaging more minutes combined than any two FAMU players in the last decade. The duo average 35.4 minutes a game each and combine for almost half the team’s total points, but they do not seem to mind.

“It just feels like for this team, it’s what we need,” said Barham. “Not being cocky or selfish or anything, but we just feel like, in order for us to win, we need us to play high minutes at a high level.”

“They are good players that are an essential part of our offense,” said their teammate senior guard Elijah Mayes. “We play better as a team when they perform.”

Why do they care so much though? FAMU has not had a winning season since they have been here, yet the duo continues to put their everything on the court. After some time pondering this question, the two concluded that they wanted to set a foundation.

“At the end of the day, I want to be in the conversation of people that stood as a foundation and did not accept defeat,” said Williams, with his teammate nodding his head in agreement. “Some people start losing so much and just be like, ‘this is the norm.’ I want to be one of the pioneers so that (people) say, ‘man when Des and Marcus left they set the tone. They really enhanced FAMU.’”

Not for fame or personal accolades, but to set a foundation for the players that come after them. A goal that may go unnoticed and underappreciated, but an accomplishment that would make them FAMU legends for years to come.