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Kam Williams, Mount St. Joseph guard, headed to Ohio State

By Matt Bracken

The Baltimore Sun

7:48 PM EDT, September 18, 2012

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Kevin Williams isn’t prone to making comparisons, especially when they involve his son. But the father of Mount St. Joseph guard Kam Williams perked up during a conversation one year ago with Ohio State assistant men’s basketball coach Dave Dickerson.

Dickerson, a former Maryland player and Terps assistant from 1996-2005, “checked out [Kam Williams] and told me he reminded him of a young Juan Dixon,” Kevin Williams said. “But with more athleticism. And better handles. And he said he saw the same passion and fire when Juan played in Kam, which is a pretty lofty comparison.”

Dickerson’s assessment didn’t end there. When Kam Williams took his official visit to Ohio State over the weekend, Dixon’s play with the Terps was a regular topic of discussion.

“He was constantly harping on it when I was down there,” said Williams, who grew up following Maryland. “He was telling me stories about Juan Dixon at Calvert Hall, how he would score in a variety of ways. I’ve always heard the comparisons about me and him.”

Starting next fall, Dickerson will get a chance to see how apt his comparison could be. Williams announced his commitment Tuesday to the Buckeyes, selecting the reigning Big 10 co-champions over offers from Marquette, Miami, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

“I feel relieved. Very relieved. And actually excited, too, at the same time,” Williams said. “I told [Ohio State] coach [Thad] Matta Sunday night. We were yelling. I couldn’t even understand. He was just yelling. He was ecstatic. He was excited. It’s almost like he couldn’t believe it.”

Those who have followed Williams’ recruitment might also have trouble believing that the 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior will play for an elite national program. Talent was never a question, with Williams earning first-team Baltimore Catholic League honors for Mount St. Joseph as a sophomore and BCL Player of the Year accolades as a junior. But several scouts and college coaches remained wary about the slightly built shooting guard.

That started to change over the spring and summer, when Williams, playing for Nike Baltimore Elite, led the Elite Youth Basketball League in scoring at 22 points per game. Williams’ play earned him new offers seemingly every week. But a scholarship from a true national power eluded him – until July when Ohio State, impressed by his play during the live period, extended its offer.

“I almost couldn’t believe it,” said Williams, who’s now considered a consensus four-star prospect. “It felt like a dream when [Dickerson] said it. My heart just stopped. When he said it, I said, ‘Are you serious?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.’ So I couldn’t really believe it. I just thought all the hard work that I put in, it really paid off.”

The euphoria of landing a Buckeyes offer lingered, but Williams also remained a big fan of Miami – one of the first programs to offer him. He took an official visit to Coral Gables two weekends ago, but the trip to Columbus the weekend after sealed the deal for the Buckeyes.

“When they took me around, I just realized that they were the cream of the crop – one of the top programs in men’s basketball,” Williams said. “Just seeing all the player of the year trophies, the Big 10 trophies, Final Four trophies, just put it in my mind all the possibilities that could happen with me going there. I think it will help me become the best basketball player I could be.”

Pat Clatchey, the longtime Mount St. Joseph coach, doesn’t have a doubt in his mind that Williams is primed for a big college career. The questions about Williams’ size and strength are irrelevant in the coach’s mind.

“I think for Kam, it doesn’t matter if he’s playing high school or college. He can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways,” Clatchey said. “I think he’ll have just a normal transition adjustment like most college players, [but] I think that will be over quick. He’s ready and capable to step in and contribute and play right away.”

For Kevin Williams, watching his son from afar will be an adjustment. Traveling to AAU tournaments over the past nine years and spending countless hours working out together in the gym isn’t something he’ll soon forget.

“Thank goodness for cable TV and the Big 10 Network,” Williams said. “I knew this day was going to come eventually. I would have loved for him to play in our own backyard, but hey, it is what it is. … We knew this day was coming. I’m sure Kam will be focused on doing his best.”

The newest Ohio State commitment is already looking forward to his future 400 miles away from Baltimore.

“[Matta] said they usually recruit the Midwest, so for them to come recruit an East Coast kid, it just means a lot. It makes me feel like they believe in me,” Williams said. “They believe in what I’m capable of. They believe I can thrive in their system. They believe I can become part of their family. That’s always great.”

mbracken@baltsun.com

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