The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Williams shot 46.3 percent from the field, 22.2 percent from beyond the arc and 68.2 percent from the free throw line during his junior year. He has improved across the board in 2011-12, shooting 52.4 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from three-point range and 82.2 at the charity stripe. The combination of the coaching change to Gottfried, having a clear-cut spot in the starting lineup and just plain hard work dur- ing the offseason has made for a breakout final campaign. "I feel more confident," Williams said. "I feel like coach is putting in the trust with all of us. It has kind of opened up for all of us, and that is why guys are playing better this year." Williams has also often been assigned the highest scoring wing defensively this season. It's a role he relishes, and his 6-5, 224-pound frame often matches up well with a variety of offensive players. Williams was surprised to hear about Gottfried's preseason proc- lamation about his offensive game. "He never told me that," Williams said. "He told me he wanted me to be a defensive stopper. He wants me to be the guy that guards their best perimeter scorer, and basi- cally shuts them down. I've been trying to do that. I think I've done a decent job, but I think I can do better." Gottfried has done a good job of publicly compliment- ing Williams periodically this season, but also challenging him if he senses any kind of slippage. "I think his offense, like it has, will come when he lets the game come to him," Gottfried said. "He takes advantage of those opportunities to play of- fensively. He plays the game go- ing to his strengths. He goes to the rim, he gets into the lane and he's a great mid-range shooter, which is rare in college basketball today. "What we want him to do is take that really good offensive player and be that defensive stopper. Be the guy that takes pride in that." The Fayetteville, N.C., native showed his mental toughness by carrying NC State's offense with 25 points in the 88-72 loss to Syra- cuse Dec. 17. He hasn't dropped off in ACC action, with the Duke game Feb. 16 the lone blemish on his ré- sumé. Williams quickly got into foul trouble and had three points in 12 minutes before fouling out in the heart-breaking 78-73 loss at Duke. Finding his niche hasn't been Most Improved Scoring Averages easy for Williams at NC State. He was in and out of the starting lineup his first three years, and he managed only 11 games of at least 10 points during the span. To put that in per- spective, Williams has 16 games in double figures amongst his first 28 games this season. NC State junior small forward Scott Wood has been Williams' roommate the last three years. He is as happy as anyone for Williams. "We've always been battling for positions, and yet we've been best friends through the whole thing," Wood said. "I know that he has always wanted the opportunity. To have that opportunity and really blossom and show what he's capable of is big. He's always been a team-first guy." Williams started eight games his freshman Player, School * Minimum of 75 percent of team's games played each year Terrell Stoglin, Maryland C.J. Williams, NC State C.J. Harris, Wake Forest Jarell Eddie, Virginia Tech 10.3 2.9 2011-12 21.3 11.6 16.8 9.4 In The ACC This Season Through Feb. 21 2010-11 11.4 4.7 Net +9.9 +6.9 +6.5 +6.5 college basketball. I hope to be able to coach one day, but there is nothing like playing." Williams also did his homework on Gott- fried's UCLA offense, which he ran dur- ing his successful stint at his alma mater, Alabama. "I was watching film of Coach Gottfried's offense, and I was able to see where my op- portunities will come to score," Williams said. "I worked a lot in those situations, and I've been in those situations in a game, so it's like being on the practice gym." Williams has found his sweet spot near the free throw line in the Wolfpack's offense. "I feel more confident. I feel like coach is putting in the trust with all of us. It has kind of opened up for all of us, and that is why guys are playing better this year." ■ C.J. Williams year, which was highlighted by a four-game stretch that he capped by going 4 of 6 from behind the arc for 16 points in a 72-67 win over Virginia. He shot 9 of 15 from three- point land during that stretch, but couldn't follow it up and sustain the success over the final four games, which emerged as his pat- tern for his first three years. He followed up his freshman year breakout game with zero points in 24 minutes at Wake Forest. Williams started the first 16 games of his sophomore season, with the Wolfpack going 11-5, but he was displaced from the starting lineup yet again. Williams made only four starts last year and cracked double figures in just three games, highlighted by going 7 of 8 from the field for 16 points in a 90-69 win over Wake Forest. He followed the next game with zero points in 10 minutes in a 75-66 loss at Boston College. College basketball is littered with stories about seniors making the most of their final chances, and Williams can be considered part of that trend. "I attribute it to my hard work in the off- season," Williams said. "I know the offsea- son is the season that you improve on. That is what it is for. I worked out a lot with my dad and [Fayetteville Jack Britt High] Coach [Irv] Walker. I was able to learn more things to do. "I know this was my last time playing "I feel like I'm a pretty good mid-range shooter," said Williams, who has a before- game ritual of playing FIFA soccer or Call of Duty video games. Williams has also become more aggres- sive in getting to the rim, and he'll some- times arrive with nasty intentions to an un- suspecting defender trying to block his shot. One of his poster dunks this season was against Western Carolina Dec. 31. "He's had a couple [poster dunks]," NC State junior center Richard Howell said. "He has the longest arms for a small forward I've ever seen. It's definitely surprising, but enjoyable to see him get up like that and be happy." Williams has been heavily influenced by his father, Wendell, and his mother, Delores. His parents and older sister, Tierra, have been fixtures at his games during his four- year career. "I think he has missed two games the last four years, and that was only because he was moving from Fayetteville to Warner Robins, Ga.," Williams said of his father. "Those are the only two games he has missed since I've been in middle school. Both were home games." Delores Williams has always been an NC State fan, but C.J. Williams grew up a North Carolina fan. His father, a Temple and Villanova fan, would take him to NCSU MARCH 2012 ■ 57

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