March 5, 2008

Kellen Williams Earns Second Team All-Big Sky Honors

March 5, 2008

Eastern Washington University senior men's basketball player Kellen Williams capped his three-year Eastern career by being selected to the All-Big Sky Conference second team as chosen by the league's head coaches. Six players were selected to the first team and five were picked to the second team.

Williams is just 6-foot-4 but he led the league in offensive rebounds (3.0 per game) and was also second in rebounding overall (8.3). His 13.4 scoring average ranked sixth, and he was also sixth in field goal shooting (.507), 13th in steals (1.13) and first in minutes played (35.5).

The 2003 graduate of Franklin High School in Seattle, Wash., had 35 steals with 49 assists in 30 games (1.6 per game). One of just two seniors on this year's team, he also averaged a league-high 35.5 minutes per game.

"I don't know how a guy can do more with what he's been given," said first-year Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine. "If how close you can come to reaching your potential is the goal of NCAA Division I basketball players, I don't know how anybody could be more successful than Kellen. He was as good a player as he could have been and got about as much out of his potential as he could have. What greater tribute can you give a guy than that? I hope we have a bunch more guys in the program during my years at Eastern that give as much as he's given and come as close to their potential as he did."

Williams finished his 87-game career fifth on the school's all-time career rebounding list with 527 (second since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season). The top four are Chris White (620 from 1998-01), Randy Buss (858 from 1970-72), Dave Hayden (1,139 from 1970-73) and record-holder Ron Cox (1,273 from 1974-77).

Thanks to a 13.4 scoring average as a senior, Williams finished his career with an even 10.0 scoring average per game. He scored a total of 873 points in his career, averaged 6.1 rebounds and made 52 percent of his shots in his 87-game career (69 as a starter). He played one season at Highline Community College in the Seattle area before transferring to EWU as a sophomore.

Williams had 10 double-doubles in 30 games as a senior, with his last double-double coming on Feb. 7, 2008, when he had 16 points and 13 rebounds to help Eastern defeat Sacramento State 59-57. Of the 11 double-doubles in his career, five came at home at Reese Court where he averaged 15.3 points and 9.2 rebounds as a senior on 52.1 percent shooting from the field.

Williams averaged 15.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and made 57.3 percent of his field goal attempts in EWU's 11 victories in the 2007-08 season. Eastern used a total of 11 lineups during the year, but the one constant was Williams. He started all 30 EWU games, and the next-most starts by an Eastern player was 27.

Williams had his eighth double-double against Northern Colorado on Jan. 17 to extend a pair of impressive streaks. He led Eastern in rebounding in 22 of 30 games, but had his streak of 16-straight games snapped at Montana on Jan. 24. Also versus UNC, he had extended his streak of scoring in double figures to 12-straight games dating back to Nov. 29 when he had a season-low two points against Santa Clara. He extended it to 13 versus Montana but had it snapped at MSU on Jan. 26.

He scored in double figures in 23 total games as a senior and was EWU's leading scorer nine times. He had double-doubles in six of EWU's 11 victories, and had five in a six-game stretch from Dec. 5 to Dec. 29. Eastern was 6-4 when he had a double-double.

In a 76-52 victory over Sacramento State on Jan. 5, Williams had a near triple-double with 22 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists. His double-double against Northern Colorado on Jan. 17 was a 21-point, 13-rebound effort in a 91-85 overtime win over the Bears in which he played all 45 minutes.

He was selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week in late December after recording double-doubles in a pair of men's basketball victories over Portland, Ore., colleges. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in EWU's 84-75 win over Portland on Dec. 17. He then had a season-high 19 points and 11 boards in EWU's 58-57 Big Sky Conference-opening victory over Portland State as he hit the game-winning shot with five seconds to play. He finished the PSU game with 11 rebounds and 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, including a trio of three-pointers and 4-of-6 free throws.

"We drew up an isolation for him and he did what a fifth-year senior is supposed to do," said Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine of Williams, who played all 40 minutes of the game. "He didn't bail out when there was contact -- he got himself balanced and took a man's shot that went in."

Williams was also selected to the All-Tournament team at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout after averaging 11.7 points and eight rebounds in three games. He had his second double-double of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds in EWU's 64-62 win over Alaska-Anchorage. He had 17 points and 13 boards in a 59-51 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 15. He had 13 points and 11 rebounds against Kansas on Dec. 5, and then had 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds one game later at Idaho on Dec. 9. He had 14 points and nine rebounds in a season-low 25 minutes of action in EWU's 91-59 romp over Cascade on Dec. 14.

"Kellen is playing really well," said Earlywine after the Great Alaska Shootout. "He has played a ton of minutes by default. He is certainly earning those minutes at this point, and he has become a much better defender over the last two weeks. Early in the year he was getting his fair share of rebounds, but he wasn't blocking out on the defensive end. Now, he is not only rebounding but he is blocking out and preventing his man from getting offensive rebounds. He is our workhorse right now."

 

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