Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks senior guard is making a case for being among the best shooters the men's basketball program has ever produced.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound product of San Antonio, is having his best season as an Eagle. The smooth-shooting combo guard ranks 11th in the American Southwest Conference in scoring (14.4) and recently passed the 1,000-point mark for his career. He has hit 161-of-450 (35.7%) from the three-point line during his four years in Clarksville. Making the case even stronger is what he has done at the free throw line. Williams currently ranks seventh in NCAA III in free throw percentage (91.0%). He has made 61-of-67 this year and 145-of-173 (83.8%) in his career.
“He has a real nice natural stroke,” said head coach Doug Boxell. “I think he has confidence and he is calm and all those things point to being good at the free throw line. As a shooter, he has a nice arch on the ball so that makes the basket big.”
Williams already holds the school record for highest free throw percentage in a season when he hit 84 percent his sophomore season. He is easily on pace to break his own record.
“I have had so much confidence this season,” said Williams, who was named Honorable Mention All-Conference last year. “I’m relaxed at the free throw line. I know when I go to the line it will be the easiest shot I get all night. I have had to work at it over my career.”
Williams has increased his scoring average in each of his four seasons at Ozarks. This year, he has posted seven games with at least 20 points. He has hit four three-pointers five times.
“Being one of the top scorers has never really been me,” said Williams. “I’ve always been labeled as a shooter, but I’ve thought of myself as a playmaker. I try to do a little bit of everything, not just score. Somehow, it has happened this year that I score a lot.”
Score a lot he has done. Williams has reached double figures in all but five games this season. He has made a three-pointer in all but four games. Williams averaged 20.4 points in his first seven games.
“As far as being consistent he is the best shooter I’ve had here,” said Boxell. “When he has that open shot, you feel like it is going down. He has enough skills to play point guard, but he can play the two or the three. It makes it tough for people to match up on him. Other teams put their best defensive player on him so he has very little time and space to operate.”
Labeled as a three-point shooter, Williams is much more than that. The four-year starter is just three assists shy of cracking the school’s top-10 list, accumulating 246 in his career. He ranks fifth in the ASC in assists (3.6) this season. In his senior campaign, he has produced games of at least five assists and ten points four times.
“I usually like to distribute in the first half and then try to pick it up with the scoring in the second half,” said Williams. “I’ve tried to be a selfless player. I’ve always loved a nice pass. A nice pass is better than a nice bucket.”
The reigning ASC East Division Sportsmanship Athlete of the Year has earned the respect from his coach and teammates.
“He is everything you dream about in a kid,” said Boxell. “The way he represents the school and program is outstanding. He is the kind of kid you love having on the team. He works hard and will show up every night and play the best he can play. He has been very respectful during our tough times. You know more about people in the tough times than you do the good times. He doesn’t complain about what could have or should have happened.”
Williams will graduate this year with an Accounting degree and hopes to land a job as a financial advisor or a contract manager. But basketball will never be out of the picture.
“I will play basketball until the day I die,” said Williams. “I would love to have an AAU team someday. I always want to be involved with the game. I’ve thought about coaching, but I don’t think it is what I want to do as far as a career.”
Quiet by nature, Williams has blossomed into a campus leader and appreciates what Ozarks has done for him.
“Ozarks has completely changed me,” said Williams. “I have learned to deal with so many different types of people. Everyone is so personable here. When I came to campus, I was scared because everyone talked to me and I wasn’t used to that. I’m from a bigger city where if you don’t really know someone you don’t just walk up and talk. It has opened me up.”
Despite the tough season the Eagles have faced, Williams still finds positives in the game.
“It has been frustrating this year,” said Williams. “I love the game to the point that even during the tough times I still have fun playing. I’ve never settled for losing, but I just always come to play and always fight.”
For video highlights and pictures of Williams, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kycc_3XwVE