Coach: Williams to Lead Jack Britt

Fayetteville (NC) Jack Britt head coach Ike Walker discusses star junior C.J. Williams with Pack Pride.

Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt head Ike Walker saw two of his players from last year's team end up playing college basketball, with one, post player John Fields, heading to East Carolina. However his best prospect is shooting guard C.J. Williams, and Walker expects Williams to have a big junior season.

"C.J. played sparingly for us as a freshman, but as a sophomore he started every game he was able to put on a uniform," said Walker. "Last year he was one of two underclassmen in our starting lineup. We had a 6'9 kid who ended up going to East Carolina, and we had a 6'3 small forward who went to Pfeiffer. C.J. averaged about 12 points a game last year, and he wasn't our primary option."

That will change this season. Williams, who also was talented enough at quarterback to garner ACC-level interest in football, gave up the sport this fall and is concentrating on hoops. That decision should benefit him and the Jack Britt basketball team.

"We have been working out some in preparation for this season," said Walker. "C.J. has been a two-sport athlete, his freshman and sophomore year he was backup quarterback on our football team, so C.J. always joined us after five or six basketball games.

"Now that he is no longer playing football he will be with us the entire preseason, and I think it will really benefit him and our team."

"This year his skill level allows him to play in a lot of places for us," Walker added. "He's going to be a leader for us on and off the court. His academics are sound. He's not walking around bragging about the opportunities he has. He's going to have to do a little of everything for us."

Not many prospects at this stage of their high school careers have the options that Williams has. Only a junior, he already has full scholarship offers from three ACC programs and others are sure to follow.

"South Carolina hasn't offered yet, but Clemson has offered," Walker stated. "He's been to Virginia Tech, and they have offered. NC State has already offered him as well. C.J. has already taken unofficial visits to Virginia Tech, Clemson, and NC State, and Wake Forest and South Carolina are really looking at him hard.

"He went to a few Elite Camps this summer. Coaches utilize those camps to get a better look at prospects. He went to those camps at Virginia Tech and Clemson, and he went to team camp at State so he's had a chance to showcase his talents in front of these schools. I'm not surprised that those programs have offered."

"A lot of guys who have seen C.J. play said he reminds them of Julius Hodge."

On the court, Williams is a wiry athlete with a strong mid-range game and the athleticism to attack the basket. His body is still filling out, but because of his football background he is stronger and tougher than his frame might suggest. Physically, and in a lot of other ways, he reminds some of former Wolfpack star Julius Hodge.

"I got a call last spring from Jeff Battle, he's an assistant at Wake Forest, and he made the same comment," Walker said. "Coach Battle told me that a lot of guys who have seen C.J. play said he reminds them of Julius Hodge. From a skill perspective they are very similar. C.J.'s football background has given him a good foundation for his strength.

"His in-between game is probably his strongest suit. Julius was a guy who could penetrate and get to the basket, and C.J. is similar in that regard. I think C.J. might shoot it better, but I can see the comparison."

Williams isn't just a standout on the hardwood, as he also excels in the classroom. Sporting a 3.5+ GPA and a tremendous work ethic, he is the total package as a basketball recruit.

"He's fortunate to have an established home, and he's well-grounded," said Walker. "He and his family are about academics first, and they have their priorities in order. He's not the type of kid that is going to get frustrated or impatient with recruiting because they have established some ground rules in this process.

"He's right now in a compare-and-contrast situation. He's going to these schools and seeing what each one has to offer."

With a trio of offers and heavy interest from regional programs, Williams could decide in the near future or hold out in hopes of landing even more offers.

"C.J. is not looking for anything," said Walker. "He's not one of these kids that is waiting for another offer. He has a desire to play in the ACC, and he feels like he's got three very good offers from three very good schools.

"I think he's pretty much wide open. If I had to choose a school that is ahead right now, NC State is probably the school that is in the lead, however he and his family have indicated there are positives at each school. NC State is probably ahead though.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he decided around November. His dad indicated that is something they might do."

Walker is very familiar with the NC State program. An assistant coach at Fayetteville (N.C.) Douglas Byrd before taking over at Jack Britt, he coached ex-NC State star Marcus Melvin in high school and frequently attends Wolfpack games in Raleigh.

He had a great relationship with Herb Sendek and his staff, and he is already impressed by what he's seen from new head coach Sidney Lowe and his coaching staff.

"Wow," said Walker. "One of the things that catches your attention with the NC State staff is they all seem to have ties to the university. That's not necessarily a main ingredient for success, but they either went to school there, played there, or coached there already.

"Their love for the school and their desire to take it to the heights of what it was when they played is obvious, and I think that is a plus. Going to the NCAAs five years in a row in this day and age is a very good accomplishment, that's not a knock on coach Sendek at all.

"I really think coach Lowe and his staff will do very well at NC State."

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