December 27, 2007

Williams Selected as Big Sky Player of the Week

Dec. 27, 2007

Eastern Washington University leading scorer and rebounder Kellen Williams was selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week after recording double-doubles in a pair of men's basketball victories over Portland, Ore., colleges last week.

A 2003 graduate of Franklin High School in Seattle, Williams 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 on Dec. 22 as he hit the game-winning shot with five seconds to play.

Williams has averaged a double-double in Eastern's six victories this season, averaging 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game with a .556 shooting percentage, eight steals and 11 assists. The Eagles take a 6-8 record into Saturday's (Dec. 29) home game against 10-2 UC Santa Barbara at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time.

He has had six double-doubles for the season, including four in EWU's six victories thus far. He has had four double-doubles in his last five games, and in the lone game he did not -- a runaway 91-59 victory over Cascade on Dec. 14 -- he came a rebound away from one and played a season-low 25 minutes. Eastern is 4-2 when he has a double-double.

Williams is just 6-foot-4 but ranks third in the league in rebounding (8.8 per game) and is eighth in scoring and 11th in field goal percentage (.504). The senior from Seattle, Wash., also has a team-leading 17 steals with 20 assists in 14 games. One of just two seniors on this year's team, he is also averaging a team-high 35.4 minutes per game.

In his 71-game EWU career (54 as a starter), Williams has averaged 8.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with a career field goal percentage of .525. He attended one season at Highline Community College in the Seattle area before transferring to EWU as a sophomore.

The Eagles opened their Big Sky Conference season on Dec. 22 with a 58-57 victory over Portland State, won on a leaning eight-foot bank shot by Williams. He finished that game with 11 rebounds and a season-high 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, then followed that with 16 points and 10 boards in a nine-point victory over Portland on Dec. 17.

"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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