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Kentucky lands commitment from Drexel transfer Amari Williams

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber04/21/24

New Kentucky head coach Mark Pope has landed another addition to the 2024-25 roster, as Drexel transfer Amari Williams has committed to the Wildcats.

Though Pope’s BYU teams were offense-driven and known for three-point rainstorms and their use of five-out lineups, Williams is a stylistic foil in every way. Instead, he’s a plodding forward and ace defender who plays exclusively inside the arc. But physicality, toughness and defense were fatal flaws for Kentucky a year ago, especially up front, and Williams changes that equation.

On the surface level, his accolades speak for themselves. Williams is the current reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Colonial Athletic Conference, where Drexel plays. He’s also made the All-CAA teams in both of the last two seasons.

Statistically, Williams doesn’t wow having scored just over 12 points per game at a mid-major school, which may appear sub-standard for a Kentucky commit. But he was the leading scorer for the Dragons in 2024 and also grabbed 7.8 rebounds per game and blocked 1.8 shots per game.

He was also an advanced-stats king on this Drexel team. Amari Williams finished with by far the highest box-plus-minus and defensive box-plus-minus on his squad in 2024.

In all honesty, he would have rated as an incredibly efficient player across the board, except for one habit nastier than chain-smoking: mid-range jumpers. Williams jacked up 106 shot attempts from what Bart Torvik classifies as “long 2s” and made just 27.4% of them in 2023-24.

From “close 2” range, Williams was solid, converting at 68% around the basket. He doesn’t shoot 3s and he isn’t a particularly bad free throw shooter for a big — obviously, the rebounding, plus-minus and blocked shot numbers are strong, so it’s these jumpers tanking his efficiency as a player. Long 2s are the worst shot in basketball to begin with, and Williams is terrible at making them. Yet, he was allowed to throw up three mid-range jumpers per game, averaging less than one make!

Worry not, Kentucky fans, because Mark Pope will not be featuring a flurry of Williams jumpers in the new-look Wildcat offense. Heck, he’ll be lucky to get off 20 all season at his new home, and that will be a positive development for all involved parties.

This is addition gives the ‘Cats an old bruiser down low, an elite defensive presence and a better rebounder than anyone off their most recent team. Mark Pope is getting off to a fine start.