Boston Warrior AAU Boy's Basketball: BW College Alumni News: Akeem Williams has All-American goals for UMass-Lowell

Akeem Williams has All-American goals for UMass-Lowell

Akeem Williams is scoring 18.8 points per game.

Akeem Williams has set lofty goals this season: Put together an All-American season while leading the University of Massachusetts Lowell men’s basketball team to the NCAA Division 2 tournament. The former Avon High star is off to an impressive start. The 5-foot-11 junior guard not only paces the River Hawks (6-2 overall, 4-2 Northeast-10) in scoring (18.8 points per game), he is tied with Chad Holley for the team lead in assists with 34.

“Obviously, Akeem is a prolific scorer, and we just want to see him take the next step and take care of the ball better and become more of a complete player,” said UMass Lowell coach Greg Herenda. “Since he’s been on our campus he has thrived in just about every facet of the game. He has the chance to be an All-America candidate. He has that kind of potential.”

Last season Williams led the NE-10 Conference in scoring (17.7 points a game), earning a spot on the all-conference second team. Although he surpassed the 1,000-point career scoring mark in just two seasons, Williams also led the team in turnovers (111), something he has vowed to improve upon this season. “Personally, I’ve set a goal for myself to be an All-American,” said Williams, a Brockton native who played three seasons at Avon High and two at the Winchendon School. “I want to come out and play as hard as I can in every game, do what I can to make every possession count, and just win games.” Herenda knew that he was recruiting a scorer: Williams rang up 1,700-plus points in three seasons at Avon, setting the program’s single-game mark with 56. But when Herenda made a visit to Winchendon, he came away just as impressed with Williams’s ability to pass the ball. “If you’re open, he’s going to hit you with the ball,” said Herenda. “Akeem is a scorer first and he looks at that rim quickly, but he has the ability to make really good passes. We’ve got good players around him and if [6-6 senior forward]Matt Welch gets open or somebody else is going to the rim, Akeem will find them.” With the arrival of Holley, a sophomore transfer from Mount St. Mary’s University, Williams is seeing more time at shooting guard. Herenda thinks the move will allow Williams to become an even more explosive scorer: In last week’s 91-88 win over Saint Anselm, he poured in a season-high 31 points. Second on the team in 3-pointers, he converted five of his six 3-point attempts. He set his career high of 35 points in a season-opening victory over Bridgeport last year. This season, Williams is shooting 41 percent from the field (53 of 129), and 42 percent from beyond the arc (20 of 47). He is third on the team in rebounding (3.9 per game) and has 11 steals but a team-leading 24 turnovers in eight games. His rebounding and assist totals are both up slightly from last season. “I love playing point guard, but I think because scoring comes so easily to me that Coach has me at the two spot,” said Williams. “Scoring is my biggest asset; if I’m open, I’m going to make the shot.” Williams vows to take as much pride in his defense as he does from scoring. “This year my whole outlook on the game has changed,” he said. “I just want to play every possession to my fullest and not take any possessions off. . . . I know for a fact I’m playing better defense because I’m not letting the guys I’m guarding have a big night.”