Why Kenny Williams Will Surprise People


UNC’s new shooting guard stands 6’3, 175 pounds. He was ranked 84th out of the ESPN Top 100. He’s not overwhelmingly quick. He’s not got killer crossovers to make him the next Hot Sauce from the Streetball leagues. He’s not bigger or stronger than many other recruits.

He, like fellow recruit Luke Mayes, appears average in nearly every aspect of their games. And like the punch that you don’t see coming, that’s what knocks you out.

Here are three reasons why Kenny Williams will surprise people on the basketball court next season.

1) Williams can shoot

Which basketball poster would you rather hang above your bed? A three-point shooter’s textbook shooting form…or an Earth-shattering, rim-rattling dunk?

Thought so.

Perimeter shooters just don’t command the crowd the way jump-through-the-roof-and-dunk-on-yo-momma types of guys do. That’s just how it is. It will be that way until the end of time.

The posterizers carry a sledgehammer. Kenny Williams packs surgical equipment. One swing from a sledgehammer can break your bones but a well-placed injection can stop your heart.

Kenny Williams is a catch-and-shoot guy. You name it: threes, perimeter, behind screens; the man does it all.

Fans look at the guy dragging the sword but forget about the one throwing the daggers. He’s the more dangerous of the two.

2) He makes the smart basketball play

People want the highlights more than the Assist-To-Turnover ratio.  This, again, takes the focus off Kenny Williams. You can trust him to make the play—not the flashy one, just the right one.

Watching film on him, one is nudged ever-so-slightly towards Marcus Paige comparisons.

Now don’t go blow a gasket. What? Marcus Paige? WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KINDA EFFIN’ IDJIT? For just one-second, forget the big-time shots, the quiet leadership and the shooting-guard/point-guard argument.

He hasn’t earned any of that yet—but that doesn’t mean he isn’t entitled to reach for it. Williams has the fundamentals needed to become a reliable game-on-the-line kind of guy.

Here’s why:

—He dribbles every fast break with his head up, scanning the floor for cutting teammates or an open shot.

—If he dribbles into the lane and the defense collapses, he has a sense of where his teammates are.

—Kenny has a pretty floater he uses sparingly but with devastating accuracy.

For Williams to be compared to the caliber of a Marcus Paige, through-and-through, he must earn those accolades via big shots and smart on-court decisions. However, some intangibles can’t be taught and Williams has those.

3) Kenny keeps the defense honest with his off-speed game. 

As a shooting guard, this true freshman will match up with some ACC opponents that have break-neck speed in droves. That level of speed isn’t Williams’ forte. However, he’s found a way to offset his opponent’s advantage.

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Kenny has little-to-no wasted motion. Every step he makes has a calculated purpose and is designed to keep his opponent guessing.

If he takes a hard dribble forward, it’s to get to his opponent to shift their weight to their heels as if he’s driving. Then, he rises up to knock down a midrange jumper while they’re stuck with no spring in their leap.

If Williams leans back and makes a high dribble, he normally shifts his off-hand towards the ball. This is designed to trick the opponent into defending a perimeter shot. After they jump to block the jumper (or at least overcommit forward), it’s off to the races—normally with Kenny being quick enough to finish at the hole.

The biggest part of his off-speed game is coming off screens. If the defender goes underneath it, Kenny rises up for a wide open jumper. That’s easy money for him.

If the defender chases Williams though, Kenny bump shoulders with his screen-setting teammate in textbook fashion. Williams will then get the ball on the handoff and purposely slow down. This sets the defender in an awkward position, pinned on Kenny’s hip and still fighting to get through the screen.

Williams now has the defender where he wants: behind him. From there, Kenny has number advantage to drive hard to the basket or pull up for that shot—open and often times, resulting in a foul on the defender who’s stuck defending a jump shooter from behind.

Tar Heel fans should be looking forward to watching Williams do his thing on the court next season.