In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Kam Williams of Ohio State, who came in tied at No. 24 in the rankings. The Buckeyes are hoping that Williams can lead a young and talented returning group back to the NCAA Tournament after the program missed it for the first time since 2008 last March.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - #24 Kam Williams:
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 70 games, 1,266 minutes, 479 points, 97 rebounds, 46 assists
- 2015-’16 Averages: 21.9 min, 8.3 pts, 1.8 rebs, 0.8 asts, 0.1 blks, 0.7 stls
- Positional Role: Shooting Guard
Over the last decade, Ohio State has established itself as one of the strongest and most consistent program in the country. However, last season was a down year and had a good bit to do with an up-and-down year for Williams. Nonetheless, with some offseason improvement, most believe he can be one of the Big Ten’s best players.
Undoubtedly, Williams’ biggest strength last year was his three-point shooting. Although his overall numbers weren’t exceptional, his 51.5 percent from outside the arc during Big Ten play led the conference and notably, his 4-for-5 and 4-for-7 nights against Michigan and Iowa respectively helped Ohio State score two key resume wins.
Along with his perimeter shooting, Williams was also efficient offensively (117.6 offensive rating) and did a great job at extending possessions for the Buckeyes. In fact, he came in at No. 2 in turnover rate and No. 16 in steal rate during Big Ten play last season. That was a nice boost for an otherwise lackluster Ohio State offense.
Areas for Improvement
As mentioned, one of the biggest issues last year for Williams was his inconsistency. During 35 total games last season, he had 13 where he had an offensive rating below 100 and another 10 where he had an offensive rating over 100, but failed to score double-digits. In other words, there were only 12 games last year where he was both efficient and productive enough offensively to really help the Buckeyes.
Maybe that sounds overly demanding (Ohio State did win some of the games where Williams wasn’t great), but it’s fair given the context. This is because Williams was the best and most productive offensive player for an Ohio State team that finished at just No. 151 in KenPom’s offensive ratings. In short, if the team wanted to be even average offensively, Williams had to do more than he did.
Where he can improve his consistency will be in his interior game. While Williams probably won’t ever be an elite interior scorer, he needs to get better at scoring inside and getting to the line. Notably, his 10.9 free throw rate was the lowest on Ohio State’s roster* last year and well outside of the top group of the Big Ten. As such, this is a key area where Williams could take a step forward this year.
On paper, Williams once again projects to be Ohio State’s most productive offensive player. However, the level of his improvement depends upon his ability to improve his interior game and his surrounding cast. After all, if Ohio State finishes near the bottom of Big Ten offenses once again, it’ll be hard for Williams to improve much statistically.
Nonetheless, as things currently sit, Williams should still be in contention to make the All-Big Ten Second or Third Team and be close to a lock to make the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Team. There’s still plenty of room to grow for Williams, but whether he can hit his ceiling remains to be seen.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Josh Langford (Michigan State)
- #24 - Kam Williams (Ohio State)
- #23 - to be continued ...
*- Austin Grandstaff finished with a lower free throw rate than Williams, but transferred during last season and did not finish the year with Ohio State.