CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- The expectations surrounding Kenny Williams’s arrival in Chapel Hill last summer were largely based on his perimeter shooting ability. By the end of his freshman season, however, Williams was earning playing time based on his defensive prowess, not his hot hand from beyond the arc.
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound wing entered the ACC Tournament championship game early in the second half against Virginia to spell Marcus Paige and held his own against ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon. UNC will need more of his outside shooting this season, although the quickest way to increased playing time under Roy Williams is defensive efficiency. That alone may give Williams a leg up on the perimeter newcomers.
First 3-pointer of his career came in ACC Tournament quarterfinals against Pittsburgh.
Played a career-high 11 minutes against UNCG.
Made 152 3-pointers during his high school career.
With such limited playing time, there’s not enough possession data to draw major statistical conclusions about Kenny Williams’s freshman season. What is worth noting is the impact he had on the ACC Tournament, where UNC was a combined +14 with him in the game over the course of the three-game event. That included a +10 over 3:15 in the first half against Pittsburgh, which proved to be decisive, and a +2 in a crucial six-minute stretch in the second half against Virginia. Even without a lot of scoring, that speaks to his smart, seamless play and defensive abilities, and is evidence of making a positive mark among talented teammates on the big stage. As for his three-point shooting, he was accurate – albeit not prolific – during his high school career, and that’s important to consider. He recorded 52 makes during the 2014 EYBL travel season, followed by 41 as a senior at Byrd HS. And then he made one three in 13 attempts in 2015-16 for the Tar Heels. Coincidentally, there was another UNC player with a three-point reputation who managed just 13 attempts from long range as a freshman in Chapel Hill. That’d be current Tar Heel assistant coach Hubert Davis. In other words, you can’t judge a shooter based off limited freshman opportunity.
by Rob Harrington
His junior season likely will be when he competes for 20-plus minutes of action, but Williams should average double-digit minutes this year in a supporting capacity. The No. 1 issue he must address is his perimeter shooting, which not surprisingly disappointed him a year ago in limited minutes, with limited shots. He entered college with the reputation as a long-distance ace and will get an opportunity to make the sophomore year leap, however, and additionally he surprised with his defense and toughness. If he can push his threes to 40 percent or more — admittedly, no modest aspiration — he’s likely to surpass this written forecast.
by ACC Coaches
“We didn’t see much of him, but he can add shooting. He’s another guy (along with Robinson) that can come in and make shots. Even in the ACC Tournament, he had one game where he came in and hit a big three. When he’s hitting he can play and if he’s not then you can sub him out, but he’s another weapon you can have on the perimeter.”
“Limited putting the ball on the ground. Can be an elite level shot maker if given time and space from three, which stretches the defense.”
by Dewey Burke
I am as excited to see what Kenny can do as I am about any player coming into this season. He showed us flashes down the stretch last year. Kenny is known around the program as very, very coachable, a great defender and a knock-down shooter. As the game has evolved, we all know how important three-point shooting is. Look no farther than about 8-miles down the road and see how they emphasize perimeter shooting. We need as many knock down shooters as we can have. Kenny could prove to be our best.
Along with Justin and Theo, Kenny can provide devastating length and ability on the defensive end. I can envision a lineup of Joel, Kenny, Theo, Justin and Isaiah that is long, fast and athletic and could wreak havoc by turning up the tempo. Look for Kenny to really step up as his minutes increase this year. He, along with the freshmen, have Marcus Paige's shoes to fill. That's asking a lot.