Anthony Williams' basketball ability speaks for itself.
The Greenbrier High School senior is averaging 14.5 points per game and almost seven rebounds per game this season. He has scored 15 or more points in six of the Wolfpack's first 10 games.
"He's beginning to be somebody we can depend on," Greenbrier boys basketball coach Casey Dees said. "He's really turning into a leader."
That leadership almost never happened. In fact, Williams' basketball career almost never took shape. He tried out for the team at Riverside Middle School in seventh and eighth grades and never made the cut.
The rejections pushed him to consider giving up the sport for good.
"I wasn't even going to try out in high school after that," Williams said. "But Coach (Casey) Heckathorn called me and talked me into it."
Heckathorn, Greenbrier's junior varsity coach, saw potential in Williams.
"I never saw him play hoops except for a pickup game here and there, and he wasn't very polished. What I did see was athlete," Heckathorn said. "I just saw a ton of potential in him athletically and hoped we could work on the polish. Once he had some confidence and began to see his own potential, it was easy."
Williams made the Greenbrier junior varsity squad in his freshman year.
"I sometimes got in at the end of the game, but that was it," Williams said. "In 10th grade, I learned from a lot of good basketball players at Greenbrier. That helped."
Williams said former Wolfpack basketball greats such as Reggie Rice and Luther Holmes contributed to his improvement. By the time he entered his senior season, the young player who wasn't good enough to make the middle school team had grown into a starter on the Greenbrier varsity squad.
"I wasn't real confident in myself back then, but I'm playing with a lot of heart and intensity now," Williams said. "It was just a lot of shooting and dribbling work - getting tougher."
Williams said the "getting tougher" portion of his game improved when he tried out for the varsity football team. As a receiver, he caught seven passes for 181 yards this past season.
"That was just for fun, but it helped," he said. "Basketball's still my favorite sport."
Williams and his Greenbrier teammates are at 9-1 on the season, including wins over rivals Evans, Lakeside and Harlem.
"He's my partner in crime. I feed off him, and he feeds off me," Greenbrier point guard Bryan Andrews said.
As for the future, Williams said he's been accepted to one college because of his grades. He hopes to play basketball at the next level as well.
Until then, he's impressing fans, coaches and college scouts on the basketball court. Heckathorn said he's also done some impressive things off the court.
"True story - coming home from the Morgan County game the other night, he swerved to miss a deer and hit a mailbox of another Riverside teacher," Heckathorn said. "Because it was the middle of the night, he could have easily left it there and no one would have ever known. Instead, he was at the door of that teacher the next morning explaining what happened and offering to make good on the accident."
Heckathorn said the act of responsibility is right in line with Williams' character.
"He's an exceptional young man," he said. "One I'm proud to have coached, and the type of boy I would love to have someday as a son."
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