Carson Williams: Owen County Rebel with a cause

February 9, 2016 FieldsColumn

BY MIKE FIELDS

Carson Williams always puts his team first, so he’s not distracted by speculation about his Mr. Basketball candidacy. The Owen County senior’s single-minded purpose is to lead the Rebels to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen.

Carson Williams

Carson Williams

“Mr. Basketball is a nice idea, but my ultimate goal is taking my team to Rupp Arena,” Williams said matter-of-factly.

Williams was speaking moments after he led Owen County past North Laurel 75-71 in overtime in the Jock Sutherland Classic at Lafayette on Saturday. The Rebels’ 6-foot-6 ½ post man delivered 43 points (including 16 of 18 field-goal shooting), 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Williams’ biggest play came in the final seconds of regulation. With the score tied 66-66, North Laurel had the ball and junior star Peyton Broughton went looking for the game-winning shot. He dribbled across the lane and tried to put up a short jumper. But Williams was there to smother the attempt, and his block gave Owen County new life in overtime.

Rebels Coach Devin Duvall is accustomed to watching Williams come up big in big games.

“He’s gone head-to-head against some of the best competition in the state and he’s come out the front-runner,” Duvall said. “His numbers speak for themselves.”

Here’s what Williams’ numbers say:

  • In a 75-63 victory over preseason No. 1 Taylor County he had 28 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks.
  • In a 73-70 victory over Henry Clay he had 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
  • In a 63-56 loss to Trinity he had 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists.
  • In a 64-51 loss to Ballard he had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.
  • In three games in the All “A” Classic state tournament, he totaled 80 points, 33 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 blocks and 6 steals.

For the season Williams is averaging 26 points and 10.5 rebounds. He’s the school’s all-time leader in both categories as he closes in on 2,800 points and 1,600 rebounds for his career.

Williams, who has signed with Northern Kentucky University, has a 4.0 GPA and shares the No. 1 academic ranking in his senior class. He tutors elementary and special education kids in his spare time.

Everybody in Owen County knows him, but he’s humble and gracious about his celebrity.

“He’s got a big heart,” said his dad, Rusty Williams. “He gets a lot of attention in our county, and he always takes time for the young ones.”

Carson Williams heading for a slam.

Carson Williams heading for a slam.

“In my mind he’s Mr. Basketball,” Duvall said. “He’s the complete package: player, person, student.”

Williams’ basketball skills come from his hard work, and from his bloodlines.

His mom, Heidi Turner Williams, was a star post player at Owen County and for a while held the school record for rebounds.

His sister Kelsey was also a standout for the Rebels and once held the school’s rebound record, too.

His brother Sawyer was an Owen County star who was a senior when Carson was an eighth-grader playing on the varsity.

Sawyer is now a 6-8 junior at Carson-Newman where he’s averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds.

(Rusty and Heidi Williams were multi-tasking, fully-engaged basketball parents Saturday. While at Lafayette watching Carson have his monster game against North Laurel, they were also watching a live stream on their smartphone of Sawyer scoring 21 points in Carson-Newman’s 91-88 victory over Catawba.)

“Carson had to battle his older brother in the back yard for all those years, and that helped make him the player he is,” Duvall said.

Carson’s greatest improvement has come in his perimeter game. He’s always been a good ball-handler, but he’s expanded his shooting range considerably.

“My jump shot’s come along, and being able to guard the perimeter position, that’s the main thing,” he said.

He’s still at his best on the blocks, however, because he is so fundamentally sound in his back-to-the-basket moves. And when he’s around the rim, well, just don’t get in his way. (Check out this slam jam against North Laurel: youtu.be/aVIwIL7WukU )

“It doesn’t matter what quarter it is or what the score is, Carson plays the same,” Duvall said. “He never gets rattled.”

When this year’s Mr. Basketball finalists are announced in a couple weeks, it will be a surprise if Williams isn’t among them.

Not that it’s a big deal to him. His focus is on helping Owen County become the first Class A school to win the 8th Region since Carroll County reached the state tournament in 1972. 

“It’s something that’s never happened at our school, and it’s something we’ve talked about doing for the last few years,” Williams said. “We want to get to Rupp Arena, and that’s what we’re all working for.”