Jacoby Davis, team director for Team United, says his star forward isn’t much into player rankings.
Patrick Willams is hard to miss whenever Team United takes the floor. The 6-8 forward, who plays prep ball at West Charlotte, is a jack of all trades; a guy who can handle the basketball and score inside and out.
Williams, who averaged 10 points per game for Team United during the EBYL Peach Jam last week, has seen his stock soar since the early evaluation period. Williams is the No. 4 player in North Carolina according to 247Sports and the No. 17 small forward in the country. He holds offers from 21 programs, including a handful of ACC schools -- Florida State, Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and N.C. State.
During Team United’s early game the day before the Peach Jam semifinals, Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts stood in the corner, watching Williams and Team United. Whenever Williams and Team United played, Keatts, and sometimes two or three of his staff members, watched.
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“They said I was a top priority for them, which means a lot from an ACC school,” Williams said. “I haven’t really (placed) any school above any school yet, but they (N.C. State) stand a good chance.”
The fact that Williams has no standouts on his list of colleges isn’t a surprise to Davis, who also coached Williams at West Charlotte. Davis said his rising star only cares about getting in the gym and playing basketball. Earlier in the year when the staff showed Williams he was quickly rising up the rankings boards, Williams looked, said “Oh, OK,” and walked out the room, according to Davis.
“To him it’s like, ‘Coach I just want to play ball,’ Davis said.
As Williams towered over a scrum of reporters on the back hall of the Riverview Parks Athletic Center in North Augusta last week, he seemed somewhat comfortable addressing the questions about his future. He may just want to play ball, but there are several fans and media members who are curious where that might be. The soft spoken Williams leans in to make sure he hears all questions, slightly smiling before answering most, almost as if he is a bit embarrassed by the attention.
Last summer he played up a level on Team United’s U17 team, which failed to make the Peach Jam. The scene last week was new to Williams, who emerged as a national prospect after receiving his first offer, which game from UNG-Greensboro in 2016.
The first ACC offer came from Wake Forest. Davis tells a story about Demon Deacons assistant coach, and ACC legend Randolph Childress, coming to watch Williams workout in Charlotte.
“He watched him for 10 minutes and said ‘I don’t need to see anymore’ and offered him,” Davis said. “That was in the fall of last year.”
Six months later Keatts extended an offer and five more from ACC schools would follow. For a kid who grew up in Charlotte, it was an honor to be on the list of so many ACC schools.
“The ACC is arguably one of the best conferences in America, just to have an offer from any school in the ACC is a blessing,” Williams said, preceded by that smile that dominated his brief moments with the press.
If Keatts hopes to land Williams in Raleigh the second-year coach has a couple things to his advantage. First, Williams knows a pair of fellow Charlotte-based players already on the team. Senior Torin Dorn and redshirt junior C.J. Bryce already have a connection with Williams; the trio regularly cross paths during summer pickup games at Vance High School, Dorn’s alma mater.
“I already have a relationship with them, and relationships are everything with your teammates,” Williams said. “You need a relationship with your teammates to play better on the court.”
Second, Williams had a visit to a football game at N.C. State when the Wolfpack hosted Marshall in their home opener last fall. Williams was blown away by the atmosphere at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“It was crazy,” Williams said. “The fans were into it, they had their chants going. It was crazy.”
Williams, who played point guard until hitting a growth spurt the summer before his freshman year, said he likes the pro style offense Keatts runs. He’s comfortable with the ball in his hand, but realizes at his size he will also play in the post, the one area he feels he needs the most improvement.
At West Charlotte, Davis has seen Williams play all five positions.
“That’s what coaches love about him,” Davis said. “He can play multiple positions.”
Asked which player on the current N.C. State roster he compares himself to, Williams thought for a second, then mentioned Dorn.
“He is a big guard,” Williams said. “I haven’t seen C.J. play (in college), but I’m pretty sure he’s going to have the same role I would have.”
Bryce averaged 17.4 points per game under Keatts at UNC-Wilmington during the 2016-17 season. He sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules.
Williams said he will wait to sit down with his parents before returning to school to narrow down his list. Keatts, and the other ACC coaches will be waiting, and watching. Williams averaged about 13 points during the EYBL run for Team United and will play in a few more tournaments this summer. That only means more attention for Williams, who continues to impress with each outing.
“Each session he got better and better,” Davis said. “He still hasn’t tapped in to what we think he has. His future is bright.”