Head coach Bob Huggins has emphasized the importance of being ready to play this year, but not everyone on his team has learned that lesson. On more than one occasion, Huggins has removed a player from the game after just one trip up or down the floor, with the message being clear: Be ready to play, or come back and sit down.
While almost every new Mountaineer has been on the business end of Huggins' quick hook, one player has not: Paul Williamson. The Logan sharpshooter has responded to every call this year -- most of the time with a quick made basket, sometimes with a good pass or hustle on defense, but always with a positive play. Even if he hasn't immediately lit up the scoreboard, he's given Huggins a reason to leave him in the game.
Against Tennessee Tech on Wednesday, all of those positives came into play. He hit two quick threes, then dished out three assists after Tech began blanketing him on the perimeter. His 11 minutes on the floor also included a steal, and most importantly, zero turnovers.
"A couple of guys I didn't think took the game seriously enough, and I knew Paul would," Huggins said. "He has a good understanding, and he is doing a better job of being ready to play than some of the other guys."
Williamson's stint on the floor, his longest of the season, wasn't without errors, though. He was beaten twice on backdoor cuts late in the half. Huggins noted that he probably should have gotten Williamson out for a break before that occurred, but his play kept him on the court.
"He made shots, he passes the ball and hustled," Huggins noted.
That's been the case all year for Williamson. He's an eye-popping 7-10 on three-pointers, has dished out six assists, and has yet to commit a turnover. If he continues to produce those numbers, there's no doubt that he will have a place in the Mountaineer rotation, especially against zone defenses.
In this interview, Williamson discusses his early shots, the defensive changes that led him to deal out assists, and his simple joy in playing for his homestate school.