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Jamarcus Williams: BIg time athlete

Sunday, July 16, 2006

(Photo)
Jamarcus Williams - S-D Male athlete of the year
CHARLESTON -- For the second straight year, a Charleston High School player earns the nod as the Standard Democrat Male Athlete of the Year.

Jamarcus Williams, the Blue Jays junior basketball and football standout, follows graduated Charleston star Ashton Farmer, the 2005 Athlete of the Year. And the odds for a three-peat are high as Williams has yet another season to add to his already impressive credentials.

Williams, at a rangy, muscular 6 feet-five inch, 205 pounds, may as well have "athlete" written across his forehead. He looks and acts the part.

"He's a great athlete," said Charleston basketball coach Danny Farmer. "He's one of those kids that you're lucky to have in your program once every 30 to 40 years. He could probably go to college and play football or basketball. He's that type of player."

Williams, a basketball starter since his freshman year, has played an important role in lifting the Charleston program to great heights during his three varsity seasons. The Blue Jays, 73-22 with Williams in the lineup, have finished second in state twice and third once.

In the 2005-06 season, Williams, a 2006 all-state performer, led Class 3 runner-up Charleston to a 24-8 record while leading the team in scoring (18.9 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg), field goal percentage (.554), free throws attempted and made (97 of 123, 78.9 percent) and was third in assists from his post position.

Although pleased by all the individual and team accolades, Williams still has one unfulfilled dream.

"My No. 1 goal is to lead the Charleston Blue Jays to a state title," he said. "Falling short last year is my main motivation."

Added coach Farmer, "There's just one thing he could do to solidify his legacy at Charleston High and that's win the state championship. It's not about the numbers anymore. It's about winning the big one."

The modest Williams, also voted this year's Standard Democrat Male Basketball Player of the Year, is not big on self-hype but does acquiesce to one individual ambition.

"I want to be Mr. Basketball for the state of Missouri," he said.

The football Blue Jays went 7-3 with Williams the leading receiver with 20 catches for 411 yards and four touchdowns. He was a first team all-region, all-district and all-conference selection.

Acknowledging his disappointment when favored Charleston fell in a 14-8 upset to Crystal City in a first-round district game, Williams said he felt a quagmire field hurt the Blue Jays' chances.

"We weren't a power team that could grind it out on people," he said. "Our offense depended on our athleticism and speed, but we should go a lot farther this year, because we're hungry."

The University of Missouri and the University of Tennessee-Martin, among others, have expressed interest in Williams as a football recruit.

A recent trip to a high-level basketball camp in Kansas just confirmed Williams' tremendous ability and versatility.

Competing with and against 80 top invitation-only high school players, he averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game for the camp's championship team while playing foreign positions at the two guard and small forward .

"It was a big transaction for me to go from playing the post to bringing the ball up the court," said Williams, "but I'll keep improving my ballhandling and shooting skills."

With more than 150 college scouts in attendance, Williams impressed.

He received on-the-spot feelers from Santa Clara University in California and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, with others expected to follow. Southeast Missouri State University also has Williams in its sights.

Said Farmer, "He went to a big-time camp and had a good showing, a great week up there and a lot of coaches were really thrilled with him. There's a lot of interest after that camp. In basketball, his upside is so huge because his skill level is so great."

Aside from being blessed with a great body, Williams attributes much of his athleticism to his childhood upbringing.

"Part of it may be genes but a lot of it is where I grew up, in the projects," he said. "All we did was play basketball in the streets with crates for baskets, play football, baseball, kickball, or whatever in the backyard."

He's also not afraid of just plain old-fashioned hard work, training five days a week in a regimen of lifting and running.

It was suggested at a camp that he drop a few pounds to increase his flexibility, which he did, from about 215 to 205.

"I'm more cut now," he said.

From a character and attitude standpoint, Williams is also special.

"He's a great kid," said Farmer, "an honor society student who never causes any trouble. He obviously loves sports and he never misses a practice. He'll try to practice even if he's sick."