COLUMBUS, Ohio – If you went to an Ohio State basketball game last season, you may have noticed that prior to tipoff, the Buckeyes – led by shooting guard Kam Williams – take part in what appears to be an impromptu dunk contest.
You see, a year ago, the NCAA changed its worst rule, one that prohibited dunking in pregame, and that means fans – and players – get a chance to unwind with some hellacious dunkonomics. When it comes to the Buckeyes, there’s no one who cranks those pregame jams up to 10 better than Williams. It doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard and it doesn’t earn Williams any more playing time than he’d normally have, but it gets him ready to play.
“I was just trying to get loose,” Williams said during Thursday’s media day when asked about the value of the pregame dunks. “I found it very hard going up for layups and then sitting down. If I get my legs going a little bit with a couple of dunks, I’ll be fresh and ready to go.”
Clearly, as a redshirt sophomore last season, getting loose paid off for Williams. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Baltimore native emerged as one of Ohio State’s most explosive offensive weapons and established himself as a deadeye 3-point shooter, connecting on just under 44 percent of these long-distance attempts.
But…Williams wants to be a dunker. He’s the most explosive, get-off-the-floor player on the Buckeyes roster.
Last season, though, he found himself taking jump shots and throwing up floaters in the lane rather than driving to the basket and putting all that pregame practice to good use in the 40 minutes that mattered.
“I’m the best dunker on this team, by far,” Williams said. When asked about the lack of in-game dunks and whether he regrets not being more aggressive, he replied with the same clarity and quickness: “Most definitely, when I go to the paint, I really rely a lot on my floater. When I go back and watch film, and I can actually see the space I had? I think ‘Man, I could have put that on his head.'”
A year ago, Williams had two dunks. One putback against an overmatched Grambling State team and one breakaway dunk after a stolen pass at Rutgers.
This year, look for a more assertive Kam Williams.
“That’s going to be a big change from previous years to this year. I’m not taking any prisoners,” he said. “If I feel like I can dunk it – if I have to throw it at the rim – I’m going to throw it at the rim. That’s how you draw fouls, and that’s something I didn’t understand and I really didn’t see because, you know, I’m more of like an outside guy, but I’ll definitely be more aggressive. If I get that step, I’ll be looking to throw down on somebody.
“That’s what I’ve been building my game. How can I create more of those opportunities for myself and improve my game as much as possible.”
Buckeyes fans can get their first chance to see Williams next Thursday night. Ohio State will host its second “Buckeyes on the Blacktop” event on the outdoor basketball courts near the Recreation and Physical Activity Center, just south of Ohio Stadium. Williams says those who show up next week will likely see quite a spectacle.
“Come on, man, I can’t tell, but I am definitely going to pull something out,” Williams said and laughed when asked whether he had something special planned for the event. “I’m going to be out there to put on a show.”