By Nathan Farmer | @nlfarmer1
The transfer portal gives and the transfer portal takes away, and for Cougar Nation, good news finally arrived on the recruiting front when Coastal Carolina graduate Rudi Williams announced he would be taking his talents to the Marriott Center this winter. .
After losing Caleb Lohner, Gavin Baxter, Hunter Erickson and Seneca Knight to the Portal and missing Fredrick King’s services at Creighton, Williams’ announcement was music to BYU fans’ ears as Mark Pope and his team finally made an addition after so many subtractions. Williams sat down with Ben Criddle to discuss why he chose to come to Provo and what made BYU stand out from the rest of the competition.
“After coming back from all my visits, I just broke down every possible situation, and BYU had the best situation and it wasn’t even close,” Williams said in an interview with ESPN 960. “A lot of things are inputs, relationships, opportunity, stage, resources, and connections, and when I checked my boxes, BYU didn’t miss out.
— Rudi Williams (@Rueadale) May 7, 2022
The fifth-year senior from Hamilton, Ont., will make the fourth stop of his college career after playing his first two years at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, before moving to Kansas State and Coastal Carolina. Williams averaged 14.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 3.2 APG for the Chanticleers last season, making him one of the most sought-after commodities after putting his name on the transfer portal in April . Once inside the portal, Williams said he was looking for a change of scenery that offered something new.
“When I came to the portal, I just thought for my senior year of college that I wanted to do something that I hadn’t done yet. [I wanted to] play on a very big stage. Sure, I’m from Kansas State and the Big 12, and it doesn’t get much bigger than that, but the year I played there was COVID year, so it wasn’t the same atmosphere and the same environment as today. I wanted to go to a bigger school where the athleticism is superior, with a tradition, a good basketball team, and I had a chance to go to March Madness.
Williams had many other “big scenes” pursuing his talents, including perennial tournament contenders in San Diego State, Xavier State, Florida, and Wichita State. Ultimately, the bonds with the coaching staff and players, and the opportunity to play in front of nearly sold-out crowds every night drove Williams to Provo.
“[Mark Pope and his staff] were real with me. I felt like they didn’t lie to me just to sell me on the spot. They told me what BYU was on and off the field. They didn’t water it down. We broke it, and they had the best basketball thing for me and told me how I could improve. It helps that they’re a younger staff, so it’s easier to connect with those types of guys and want to play for them and show up for work every day.
Pope and Williams are cut from the same fabric. Both enjoy honing their craft and studying basketball, 24/7/365. Williams said he and Pope were up until the wee hours of his official visit to get shot at the Marriott Center Annex, talking only about life and basketball.
Williams has also been studying his new squad as much as possible by watching every game of the 2021-22 season with a view to joining his teammates at the end of June. He said he was impressed by Fousseyni Traoré and Gédéon George in the film he watched, but an unexpected actor stood out during his studies.
“One of the sleepers I didn’t know, and how good he was, was Spencer Johnson. I watched the Utah State game, and I thought, ‘I’m going to war with that guy.’ He was tough, being a competitor, playing tough, playing defense, and he had a few shots. I was really impressed with him.
Rudi is the third of seven siblings raised by his single mother, Beverly. Beverly immigrated to Canada from Jamaica, where she played NetBall, a sport similar to basketball. Rudi’s older brother, Deneil, and younger brother, Omeechi, played college basketball, and his older sister, Tashae, played college rugby. Rudi has singled out his mother as his inspiration and driving force behind all his successes.
“If it’s not for her, I’m not on this call. She taught me at a very young age about hard work, sacrifice and dedication. She is a single mother and I am one of seven children. There were a lot of days when I’m sure she didn’t want to go to work or drive us to school but she did anyway, because that’s what she had to do to support us. . Any type of success I’ve had before or have in the future is because of her. I always write her name on my shoes because I wouldn’t be here without her. I literally owe him everything.
Everything for her❤️✨will take care of her and that’s a PROMISE pic.twitter.com/HGk3oPgtBy
— Rudi Williams (@Rueadale) August 20, 2018
When he’s not playing or watching hoops, Williams loves watching movies. A self-proclaimed sneakerhead, Williams also enjoys learning about shoes and collecting them. Williams says he has a collection of over 30 pairs of sneakers and prefers Paul George or Kyrie Irving shoes when he hits the hardwood. He didn’t tell Pope about it when he visited, but being able to wear his favorite basketball shoes while playing was a deal breaker when deciding where to go to school next.
Williams brings a level of experience to a BYU team that will need a leader following the departures of Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas. Williams plans to take on a leadership role as he considers his goals for his final college season.
“I’m an older guy and it’s a relatively young group, so I want to be a leader. I want to develop my game as much as possible, prepare for the next level.
As far as team goals go, it’s “NCAA Tournament or fail” for Williams.
“I want to do something special. I want to win something and hang up something. I’ve never participated in the March Madness tournament, so that’s obviously one of my goals. I just want to do something special with a group of guys, something that’s going to last the rest of my life, where I can look back and say, ‘Wow, I did that.’
This is just the first of many additions to come for Mark Pope and his team, with more prospects planning official visits. With more than 1,000 student-athletes still in the transfer gate and the Cougars holding three scholarships available, Rudi Williams will surely be the first of many rookies to commit to BYU.
To listen to Rudi’s full interview on ESPN 960, click the link below.
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