It would have been easy for Deron Williams to say it was his turn. After playing high school basketball in the shadow of now-Indiana freshman Bracey Wright, Williams could have come to Illinois and hogged the ball and the spotlight from the start of his freshman season. It would have been easy, but it wouldn''t have been Deron Williams. "If Deron heard there was a good pickup game in Saskatchewan, he''d want to drive up there to get in on it," said Tommy Thomas, who coached Williams and Wright at The Colony (Texas) High. "The kid is a gamer. He''s not hung up on getting the credit and the glory." Good thing, too. Because wherever Williams goes, good as he is, he seems to get a little slighted on that front. First it was high school teammate Wright who stole some thunder. Williams was a high school star in Texas, to be sure, but Wright was a McDonald''s All-American. Williams drew plenty of recruiting attention from Illinois and Georgia Tech, no slouches. But Wright got calls from Indiana and Kentucky, two of the winningest programs in college basketball history. And when he got to college, Williams found himself sharing the backcourt with another headline-grabber, teammate (and roommate) Dee Brown, who''s captured the attention and affection of Illinois fans with his speed, his amped-up on-court attitude and that cool headband. It''s not that Williams is off to a bad start. Far from it. His 7.6 points-per-game scoring average doesn''t leap out at you, but his 33 assists are just one behind Brown and good for fifth in the Big Ten. But Brown''s Dee-meanor (and flashier 13.6 points a game) have made him the breakout star of Illinois'' freshman class. Which is just fine with Williams. "Dee''s a great player, and he deserves what''s coming to him," Williams said. "And it''s really no different from high school, when Bracey used to get all the pub. But I still get mine, and even if I didn''t, that''s not what it''s really all about. It''s about the team effort." And Williams has been a major contributor to the 7-0 record No. 12 Illinois carries into its Saturday Braggin'' Rights showdown with Missouri. He goes into the Missouri game coming off his best effort of the season: an eight-point, seven-assist, five-rebound performance in Illinois'' 70-54 win against Temple last Saturday. Bill Self noticed those numbers, though he knows you might have missed them. "With Dee, he''s so fast and so flamboyant that you''re always going to notice what he does," Self said. "From a coach''s standpoint, I think Deron will impact a game just as much, it''s just that nobody else may see it." Thomas sees it. It''s easier for him; he knows what to look for. He watched throughout high school as Williams helped turn Wright into one of the most coveted recruits in prep hoops. "One of the reasons Bracey was so good, and one of the reasons Dee is so good right now, is Deron getting guys the ball in a position where they can score," Thomas said. "Sometimes it''s subtle, but Deron is the consummate point guard. He just has a great understanding of how to play the game." More than that, Williams understands teams often have one star that shines a little brighter in the public''s eyes. If that isn''t him, he isn''t sweating. "Really, I never think about it unless I get asked," Williams said. "Why would I? As long as we''re winning, it doesn''t matter to me who''s getting the attention. Even if we weren''t, it''s not really about that." Besides, it would be hard for Williams to hold grudges against guys he likes so much. Williams and Brown are roommates and close friends. Williams and Wright were close in high school and stay in close contact now. "I talked to him a couple of days ago for about a half-hour," Williams said of Wright. "He was on the way back from the Purdue game, and I had seen his (missed) dunk on ''SportsCenter,'' so I had to call him up on that one. I talk to him a lot." Other people talk about him a lot. Brown, too. Neither is far down the list when ESPN analysts start dropping the names of the nation''s top freshmen. Self figures before it''s all said and done, Williams will make those lists, too. There were times in preseason practice, the Illinois coach said, when Williams was his team''s best guard, and Self expects Williams'' production to pick up as a bothersome sprained ankle more completely heals. But even if nobody''s talking about Williams, Self is confident he''ll keep up his quiet contributions. "If you told Deron Williams that seven games into your freshman season, you''re going to be averaging eight points a game, you''ll be in the top five in the Big Ten in assists, you''re going to average 27 minutes a game,É he''d sell out for that," Self said. "He just wants to be a part of it. He doesn''t have to be the go-to guy."