Kenny Williams III, L.C. Bird’s senior swingman, is a skilled basketball player. Williams is the newest Virginia Commonwealth University Ram, fulfilling his dream of attending the school after meeting head coach Shaka Smart in his freshman year.
The Skyhawk is, by definition, a basketball player. It consumes his life.
“I really don’t do much else, or have any hobbies,” said Williams. “I hang out with my family and friends.”
For Kenny Williams Jr., who’s retired from the Navy, and Sherrie Pounds, a nurse, first came son Danny. Then, came Danielle, Dominic, JaMaar, Kenee’, Kenny, Kris and Autumn. Kenny was the sixth child, and surprisingly, the only Williams who has taken basketball this seriously. Seven siblings gave him that competitive edge early on.
“Growing up, I was one of the youngest,” Williams reflected. “They were all bigger than me, so I wanted to beat them.”
Williams, party of ten, could play a full-court basketball game on their own.
“Sometimes all those personalities clashed,” explained Williams. “But you never got lonely; there was always someone there to do something with or go out with.”
They were also his support system, especially his parents- picking up his confidence after a bad game. Williams was also pushed by his parents academically and as a person. That seems to have created a humble, budding superstar that the Skyhawks community has grown to love.
Kenny Williams Jr., Kenny’s father, had recordings of Michael Jordan playing basketball. Williams reflects that these were some of the first basketball films he saw. Then, he spotted a player for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant – The Black Mamba. Being a Lakers fan, it would be easy for the younger Kenny to slide right into the purple and gold.
“Kobe is a killer, he’s got that killer instinct,” Williams stated. “I try to steal moves from him.”
Does Kenny Williams have that same killer instinct, to take the ball game over and seal it for his team?
“I don’t like to judge my own game,” he said. “That’s for others to decide.”
Bryant is sometimes portrayed by the media as singular player, one that doesn’t get along with teammates, not receiving credit for leadership skills. That is not the case for Kenny Williams.
While it’s unusual in the social hierarchy of high school for seniors to hang out with underclassmen, that’s exactly what Kenny does. Last season, two freshmen were added to varsity by head coach Troy Manns. Those freshmen were Mario Haskett and Johquin “Pinky” Wiley.
“I just wanted to take them under my wing and help them be the best that they can be,” said the senior. “I know their potential and I want to help them reach that potential.”
Kenny’s two best friends have been key additions to the Skyhawks’ line-up and have started to write their own stories of success. Haskett has already picked up an offer from James Madison University with several others interested. Wiley, who has evolved into a point guard, has early interest from Division I schools such as Cincinnati and Radford.
Williams said that he saw some of the same types of leadership in Robert Johnson, who attended L.C. Bird before transferring to Benedictine and then of course, attending the University of Indiana where he is a freshman. While Johnson leaving was a big loss for the program, that’s really what gave Williams a chance to step in and step up. That’s exactly what he’s been able to do.
The work is not done, yet. The 8-1 L.C. Bird Skyhawks have business left on the table. There’s one team that Williams and the Skyhawks haven’t been able to beat. Henrico has eliminated L.C. Bird two straight years in the regional tournament, last year by the slimmest of margins – a single point.
“We’re not going to be able to rest until we beat them,” said Williams in an interview earlier this year.
Before Kenny Williams can play for the Rams, L.C. Bird is a favorite to bring home a 5A State Championship. That’s the objective. The VCU fans who already attend some Skyhawks home games will have to wait just a little bit longer. He’s on his way.