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UNC Basketball Summer Checklist: Kenny Williams

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Is Kenny Williams ready to make a sophomore leap?

UNC's Kenny Williams pushes the ball up court
Kenny Williams is ready to break out in 2016-2017

Part three of our Summer Checklist series brings us to rising sophomore Kenny Williams. Williams was a late addition to the Tar Heels’ 2015 recruiting class, having originally committed to his hometown VCU Rams, and saw the court sparingly during his freshman campaign.

However, like many freshmen before him, Williams did just enough at the end of the year to leave fans irrationally optimistic (although I believe it may actually be justified) about his future. So, what does Williams need to do this summer in order to carve out more playing time this season?

Stretch The Floor

Williams entered UNC with the reputation of being a knockdown shooter. In fact, he first caught the coaches’ attention after leading the Nike EYBL Circuit in 3-point shooting. Unfortunately, that stroke didn’t immediately translate to the college game, as Williams started out 0-12 from beyond the arc (including a few Tokotoan bricks).

Then there was attempt #13. Oh baby, she was a beaut. A confident, transition triple that effectively ended Pitt’s stay in the ACC Tournament.

Whatever was going through his mind during that sequence, he needs to channel it this season. If Williams exhibits that same level of confidence in his shot — the kind of confidence that makes an 0-for-college freshman call for the ball during a 3-possession ACC Tournament game, and calmly bury the shot — then ol’ Roy will have no choice but to give him big minutes.

Play Lockdown D

As much as Roy values players that can put the biscuit in the basket, he has proven time and again that you earn minutes with your defense. Well, at the end of last season, Kenny Williams did exactly that.

Immediately prior to the aforementioned dagger against Pitt, Williams was inserted into the game to throw a different look at Jamel Artis, and successfully shut him down. Two nights later, Williams played six minutes of fantastic defense on ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, arguably swinging the game in the Tar Heels’ favor.

In what looks to be a crowded Carolina backcourt, Williams’ defense may ultimately be what earns him minutes over his peers. If he embraces the role of defensive stopper and becomes a true “3 And D” guy, Roy will have yet another reason to keep him on the floor. Players who can come off the bench and swing a game’s momentum with their defense are extremely rare; Williams could be that guy for the Heels.


For most of his 122 Minutes of playing time last year, Williams looked more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He’d enter the game, make a few passes, and only shoot when absolutely necessary. By my count, he finished the year with eight “Trillions,” maxing out with a five Trillion against Tulane.

(For the unfamiliar, a “Trillion” is a term coined by former Ohio State Walk-On Mark Titus, and references a player’s line in a box score when his only statistic is Minutes Played. So, against Tulane, Williams played five minutes without recording any sort of statistic -- no shot attempts, no personal fouls, no turnovers, nothing. Thus, I hereby declare him “Kenny Trilliams.”)

With a full year under his belt, Trilliams should be able to play much more freely in 2016-2017. While I expect him to always be a player who takes care of the ball (to his credit, Trilliams only committed one turnover in 122 Minutes last year), I’d love to see him take a few more risks this season. There will be a few bumps and bruises along the way, and Roy is probably going to drop a few “dadblamit”s, but it’s important for K-Trill (yeah that one’s not going to stick) to be at ease on the court.

The training wheels came off on March 10th; now it’s time to see how fast Kenny can go.