Sophomore Grant Williams is coming of age for Providence Day basketball
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Friday, Jan. 03, 2014

Sophomore Grant Williams is coming of age for Providence Day basketball

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/31/09/54/1bBcXh.Em.138.jpeg|229
    DIEDRA LAIRD - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Sophomore forward Grant Williams, left, is part of a talented Providence Day lineup that includes, from left, Devin Mills, Jordan Watkins and Chaston Raye.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/31/09/54/v82vj.Em.138.jpeg|385
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Providence Day sophomore forward Grant Williams averages 13 points and seven rebounds a game for the Chargers. He’s gone against tough competition inside, including Hough forward Luke Maye, right.

Grant Williams turned 15 years old Nov. 30.

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound sophomore not only has emerged as one of the top players on his Providence Day boys’ basketball team but already has impressed college recruiters enough to get offers from the Charlotte 49ers and Mercer, and he has growing interest from Davidson and several ACC schools, according to Charger coach Brian Field.

Williams started making a name for himself as a freshman, averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game despite often giving up three or four years and as many inches to opponents.

“It’s tough when you’re 14 years old and playing against 18-, 19-year-old guys on a regular basis,” Field said. “But he handled it well, and I think it helped him grow up even quicker. He’s really matured a lot already and understands the level of focus and intensity it takes to play at a high level.”

Williams is playing better as a sophomore, averaging 16 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and nearly two steals per game for the Chargers, who are ranked No. 5 in the Observer Sweet 16 poll.

“The last two years have flown by,” Williams said. “Last year it seemed like I made so much progress. This year has been slower, but I still feel like I’m getting better. But I’ve got a lot of things I need to keep working on, from getting stronger to my jump shot to being more aggressive. That keeps me motivated all the time.”

The Chargers (11-3 through Dec. 30) have shown they can play with some of the state’s top public and private-school teams. Providence Day has wins against 4A public-school teams including Hough and Independence, and private schools including Durham Academy, Greensboro Day and Forsyth Country Day.

Williams has held his own against the likes of Hough big men Luke Maye and Tucker Thompson, Independence forward Deion Lane, Forysth Country Day’s Cory Hanes, Durham Academy’s Alston Thompson and Christ School post players Lloyd Burgess and Alex Wnuk.

But playing against bigger, talented players is nothing new for Williams. He grew up in a basketball family, first learning the game from his 6-foot-6 father, Gilbert, who played college basketball at Minnesota State.

The youngest Williams also learned from his older brother, 6-foot-3 Gabon Williams, who recently played at West Charlotte and is a redshirt at Johnson C. Smith this season.

Close family friend and former West Charlotte High All-American Kennedy Meeks, now a North Carolina freshman forward, also had a lot do with Grant’s development.

“I learned a lot from Gabon and Kennedy growing up,” said Grant Williams. His oldest brother, Gilbert, is 6-foot-10 but didn’t play basketball, and another brother, Neville Young, plays junior college basketball at Bishop State (Ala.). “I basically learned all my inside moves from Kennedy and all my outside, perimeter stuff from Gabon. They definitely showed me what it takes to play at a high level.”

The Providence Day sophomore forward also says he learns a lot from working with teammates like senior guard Jordan Watkins (Davidson commit) and fellow sophomore forwards Josh Howard and Isaac Johnson.

Williams grew from 6-foot-2 in eighth grade to 6-foot-5 as a freshman, then to his current stature.

“One of my doctors actually predicted I would grow to be 7-foot-3,” Williams said. “I don’t think I will get that tall, but I would to grow at least a few more inches, and I haven’t hit a growth spurt yet.”

A few inches and continued development could be the difference in Williams becoming a major Division I recruit, said Field.

“I think Grant has got a chance to be one of the best big men to come out of Charlotte,” Field said. “For now, he’s just got to focus on getting better. We always emphasize that as a program. We don’t want to ever look to far ahead. We want to attack the day and set small goals.

“If you can continue to accomplish those goals, at the end of the day we believe we can reach our bigger goals.”

While Williams is focused on reaching his potential, he also wants to continue to help his Providence Day team improve.

“We had a great year last season (25-7 and a state quarter-finalist), but we think we can be even better,” Williams said. “We want to go out and prove that we are the best team in North Carolina.”

If Providence Day is going to do that, Field said, Williams and players like Howard and Johnson will be a major factor, providing the Chargers an inside game they have lacked in recent years. With Watkins, junior point guard Chaz Raye and senior Devin Mills on the wing, the Chargers have the talent to be elite.

Williams said he hopes to be a major reason why the team is a contender for the state championship.

“Grant wants to be a great player,” Field said, “but the best thing about him, like most our guys, is that he is willing put in the work and do whatever it takes to get there.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

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