NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — We have our first Kentucky-related news out Peach Jam 2017: The Wildcats reached out this week to 5-star power forward Emmitt Williams, who badly wants a scholarship offer from John Calipari, and they’ve had an assistant courtside for both of his games here so far.
“They texted me right after practice two days ago, when we first got here. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to go hard and try to show people what I can do,” Williams said Thursday. An unnamed UK assistant “was like, ‘We’re going to be here watching you.’ That gave me motivation.”
The 6-foot-8 Williams, ranked the No. 20 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 by Scout.com, was so jacked up, he threw down two dunks over the No. 1 player in the country, Marvin Bagley III, in his Peach Jam opener Wednesday night.
That’ll go a long way toward his stated goal this week — “make sure people remember my name” — and perhaps that coveted Kentucky offer.
“I always wanted to go against (Bagley) since I was in middle school, and to finally get the chance to go against him and show what I can really do — what I can do against other people’s top priority, it’s great,” Williams said. “He’s just a regular high school person. I don’t see him as Kevin Durant or nothing. If I dunk on one of them, I better get millions of dollars for that.”
Williams has a Cats connection: He’s a former AAU teammate of 5-star Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox, who he predicts will be a one-and-done lottery pick, and the two have been talking a lot lately about Lexington.
“He was like, ‘Man, it’s a great school.’ He hopes I can take a visit up there so he can show me campus. He said he loves it already,” Williams said. “I would love to get an offer from them. It would be a blessing to get an offer from Kentucky. I look up to those guys. I always wanted to get an offer from Kentucky and maybe, probably, have a chance to go there.”
But even if Calipari and the Cats throw their hat in the ring, there will be stiff competition. In-state Florida and Florida State will be heavily in the mix, along with the likes of Kansas and Duke. The Blue Devils appear to be serious contenders.
“Coach K offered me (about a month ago). Getting the phone call, it was like talking to God,” Williams said. “I never thought I’d be talking to the best coach in the world on my cell phone. Getting a call and a text from him is a blessing, because I never expected myself to go this big in basketball. The No. 1 coach in the world calling your phone out of millions of kids.”
Williams said he didn’t start playing basketball until late in middle school — he tried football first — and didn’t take the game seriously until about two years ago. Now he’s one of the most sought-after prospects in America. That is due in part to a high motor (he said he wants to be his team’s energy guy) and his fearlessness.
“I never back down from anyone,” he said. “Once that person gets scared of you, it’s like you go after them.”
Now, will Kentucky go after Williams?