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Titan finds solace in state where he started
Kenny Williams gave up football thousands of miles away for basketball in Florida.
By RODNEY PAGE
Published January 31, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - The road to St. Petersburg College was a circuitous one for Kenny Williams.
It started with a football scholarship to Auburn, was sidetracked at a California junior college and ended at a high school basketball game in Miami.
That's where SPC coach Earnest Crumbley saw Williams watching his former high school, Miami American. Crumbley was there to recruit Chris McClindon, and when he saw Williams, he couldn't help but talk to him.
"He told me football didn't work out and he was looking for a place to play basketball," Crumbley said. "I said, "You don't have to look any further."'
McClindon and Williams joined the Titans last season. Williams, a power forward, was named first-team all-conference and to the freshman all-state team. Prior to this season, Williams was a preseason junior college All-American candidate.
At 6 feet 8, 240 pounds, it didn't take long for Division I schools to find Williams. Earlier this season, he signed with Kansas State.
"I didn't want to go through a big recruiting process again," Williams said. "I just wanted to sign and get it over with. I knew I wanted to play in a big conference like the Big 12, and I liked my visit up there."
Williams went through the recruiting process once before. He was a touted tight end in high school. He signed with Auburn, but his SAT scores were not high enough.
Williams spent the year playing junior college football at Reedley College in California. One season thousands of miles from home was enough.
"I didn't want to play junior college football," Williams said. "I just wanted to go home and focus on basketball. I knew that basketball would be my route to college."
That's where Crumbley came in. He knew about Williams' talent and figured he would fit right in.
Williams averaged 16 points and eight rebounds as a freshman. Through 22 games this season, Williams leads the team with 17 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Academically, he will earn his Associate in Arts degree and plans to earn a business degree at Kansas State.
Just because he has a scholarship, don't expect Williams to take it easy.
"I'm a very competitive, physical player," Williams said. "I think football helped me with that. I'm not afraid to hit the floor. Coaches like to see tough, physical players. A lot of players aren't like that. You throw a few elbows at a player on a rebound, and they might back off a little bit."
The Titans, who won the state junior college title in 2001-02, appear to be contenders for a second. They are 18-5, 5-1 in the Suncoast Conference.
Winning a state title would be especially sweet for Williams.
"I've never won a state championship in anything," he said. "We always came up a little bit short. I'd love to finally win one."