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Former T-Bird Williams taking part in NBA Draft Combine

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Former T-Bird Williams taking part in NBA Draft Combine

By Jason Farmer

At 6-foot, 7-inches, Kenrich Williams was not the tallest man on his basketball team. He wasn’t the second, or third, or even fourth tallest. In fact, he was actually tied for the seventh tallest. But that didn’t stop him from making an impact on the college basketball court.

“Kenrich is an unbelievable kid,” former NMJC coach James Miller said. “He is very humble and extremely hard working. He came to New Mexico with very limited recruiting. Brian Lohrey, the old head coach, did a great job of recruiting him for us.”

After playing one year at New Mexico Junior College and three more seasons at TCU, with his college career over, Williams has a chance to possibly be drafted by an NBA team late next month. But before he does that, he will take part in the NBA Combine going on right now in Chicago at Quest Multisport. He is listed as a forward for the draft combine.

“I think the thing you still see with Kenrich to this day is his work ethic,” Miller said. “It is second to none. His approach with having a chip on his shoulder and trying to prove himself and represent himself and his family the right way, continues to carry on. He was a special player for us the year he was at New Mexico, both on and off the floor.”

Kenrich Williams at NMJC in 2013.

Having played his last game in the college ranks, Williams is one of more than 60 players who have been invited to the NBA Draft Combine. The combine started Wednesday and concludes on Sunday. The combine will air of ESPN2 today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Miller said he plans to watch the combine and see what Williams can do and show those NBA teams that might be interested in him.

“I texted with him (on Wednesday) and just told him I am so happy for him and so proud of how far he has come,” Miller said. “I told him I know you are going to kill it there because he is one of those guys you don’t bet against. It is not everyday you get to watch a guy that you coached and spent a lot of time with and truly love as a young man in the NBA Combine, so yeah, I am going to watch it for sure.”

While at the combine, players will scrimmage and be tested on various skills, including their vertical leap. Potential draft picks will also go through a medical exam.

“I have talked to a lot of scouts who have called to try and do some research on him and his background,” Miller said. “They might wish there were some more physical attributes, that he could jump a little higher or run a little faster, but what people will see in the combine, especially in the game segments and competition segments is his will to win is second to none. He is so tough-minded. He is so determined in his approach when he competes against other people and his approach to trying to win. … At the combine, I think that is what will show. Maybe there will be some guys who have some more physical measurables or are more gifted in that category, but the heart and the toughness that he is going to approach things with will at the top.”

Thursday, Williams was rated the top NBA Break Right Shooting Percentage with an 80 among all forwards. The next four prospects all scored a 60. His 80 in NBA Corner Left Shooting Percentage was tied for first with three others. Williams had an 80 and was also tied for first in NBA Top Key Shooting Percentage with three others. He scored a 65.5 to take second in On The Move Fifteen Shooting Percentage.

Williams was a big part of the TCU basketball team during his three years with the Horned Frogs. As a senior this past season, Williams started all 32 games he played in. During his junior campaign, Williams started in 36 of the 37 games he played. He sat out the 2015-16 season with a medical redshirt, but started 17 of the 33 games he played in back in 2014-15 as a sophomore.

Williams’ final college game for TCU (21-12) was a 57-52 loss to Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Williams led the Horned Frogs with 14 points and eight rebounds.

He played in 102 games, starting 85 of them, averaging 11 points a game to go with 9.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.8 steals. This past year, Williams had his best season scoring, averaging just over 13 points a night while grabbing 9.3 boards.

Before becoming a centerpiece for TCU, Williams starred right here in Hobbs for New Mexico Junior College. He played one season with the Thunderbirds, his freshman season back in 2013-14. He helped the T-Birds make it to the NJCAA Men’s National Championship Tournament where they lost 102-94 to Indian Hills in the second round.

The former T-Bird started 32 of the 34 games he played for NMJC and averaged 10.1 points a game while pulling down almost seven rebounds a night. He was the third leading scorer on the team, behind Jeff Newberry (13.5 ppg) and Chris Boucher (12.1 ppg).

“Kenrich came and literally spent countless hours in the gym,” Miller said. “Anytime you heard a ball bouncing, it was him in there working on his game, trying to improve himself.”

Williams had 18 games with double figure scoring and six games with double figure rebounds. Williams had a season-high 23 points in an 81-72 win over Clarendon College while his season high in rebounds were 15 in a 72-63 loss to South Plains College.

Boucher is currently with the Golden State Warriors G-League team in Santa Cruz, Calif. He has played one game for the defending NBA champions this season, a 117-106 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on March 14.

“It is pretty crazy to think that we had Chris, who came off an ACL injury and played in a game for Golden State and has a bright future and Kenrich,” Miller said. “All those guys were so effective and so talented, yet they were all still so green in their approach from a standpoint in that they probably didn’t understand how good they really good have been, and to see where they are now is pretty cool that two former T-Birds who will realistically be playing in the NBA next year.”

 

Burkett Shaw
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