UNC Basketball: Kenny Williams 2017-18 season preview

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16: Kenny Williams
CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16: Kenny Williams /

After two years as a role player, Kenny Williams will need to make the leap for the Tar Heels.

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The North Carolina Tar Heels were fortunate enough to get Kenny Williams after he de-committed from VCU after Shaka Smart left the program.

Now, it seems as if Williams is finally ready to become the offensive weapon Tar Heel fans expected him to be.

The junior missed the end of last year with a knee injury but he is now 100 percent clear for the season.

When Williams was on the court last season, he was consistently one of the better three-point shooters on the team. But as the season kept going, Williams accuracy from deep began to decline.

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There will be higher expectations on Williams this year. He will need to help fill the void left by Justin Jackson.

Williams, along with his teammates, are capable of filling that hole.

2016-17 season review

Last season, Williams was forced into the starting shooting guard role when Theo Pinson went down with a foot injury in preseason.

Williams, despite never starting a game, filled in respectably for Pinson in his absence.

The guard had his best display of shooting early in the year against Radford. And as many Tar Heel fans know, Williams’ defense was incredible.

He covered for Pinson’s loss on the defensive end as well as anybody thought he would.

Williams played in 26 games last year, starting in all but four of them. He averaged six points, three rebounds, and two assists per game for the Heels. Williams did all this while shooting 42% from the field, and 33% from three.

But his season ended in more disappointment than joy.

Williams tore his meniscus in late February last season and missed the final fourteen games for the Heels. Williams did not get to participate in any of the NCAA Tournament games but was on the sideline for all of them.

All in all, last season was not a bad one for Williams. He showed off his defense, and his three-point shooting ability.

2017-18 role and preview

Williams will need to make yet another leap for the Heels this season.

When the Heels lost Justin Jackson to the draft, they knew that the three-point shooting would need to be improved upon.

Along with grad transfer Cam Johnson, Williams will need to help give the Heels some more viable three-point threats this year.

This season he will likely come off the bench with the addition of Johnson but will play about the same amount of minutes as last year.

But the role he will play will ask for more from the junior.

He will be the marksman for this UNC team with the ability to knockdown threes, the reason Williams was recruited to UNC.

The junior will also be the defensive stopper for the second team. Theo Pinson is the teams best defender, but Williams is not far behind him.

Carolina will depend on him to stop the other teams best player in second team opportunities.

All in all, Williams’ role will be big this season. His role will be very similar to Pinson’s role on the 2015-16 team, except that Williams will need to rain in the threes.


As we discussed earlier, Williams is known for his three-point shooting prowess. Williams entered the Tar Heels radar initially as a stone cold shooter.

His first two years at UNC have been a little bit of a disappointment.

He’s a rhythm shooter, like most three-point shooters, so the more attempts he gets, the better off he will be.

If Williams can stay healthy this season, he will have plenty of chances to get in a rhythm and turn into that great shooter.

Williams’ other strength is his phenomenal defense.

He had his breakout game as a defender in his freshman season against Malcolm Brogdon in the ACC Tournament. Williams stepped in, and shut him down for a few possessions, just to give the starters a breather.

Since then, Williams has been the go-to-guy after Theo Pinson as a defensive stopper.

Williams can defend a point guard, or a small forward. He is truly versatile in his defensive abilities.

But this year, Williams will need to help as a leader. With this team being fairly young, the Heels could use another face to lead the young players as they develop.

Bold Prediction

Since Williams will be coming off the bench this year, you might need to temper your expectations for him a little bit.

Williams will be a nice contributor, but he will not be one of the leading scorers.

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I predict that Williams will finally breakout for the Heels, leading the team in three-point percentage, with 40+% this year.

Williams will also average double-digits for the first time in his career.