Buckeye guard Kam Williams has been at Ohio State for five years. He's developed into a solid contributor, who has scored more than 1,000 points in his career, but until Thursday's NCAA tournament win over South Dakota State, I would argue that his career would have been quickly forgotten. Not anymore.
With the Buckeyes wilting down the stretch, blowing a double-digit lead to the upset minded Jackrabbits, Williams delivered his "One Shining Moment," drilling a 3-pointer 'and one' turning a 70-70 game into a 74-70 Buckeye lead. For good measure, Williams hit three more free-throws when he was fouled shooting a 3-pointer a possession later. He would make all three shots, authoring his own 7-point run, leading the Buckeyes to an 81-73 win.
Keita Bates-Diop scored more points (24) and C.J. Jackson had a near double-double (20 points, 9 rebounds) but neither was as valuable, with the season on the line, as Williams...and good for him.
Not everyone gets a moment, so when it happens, it's special. Back in the 2012 football season, Ohio State trailed Purdue 22-14 with starting quarterback Braxton Miller out with an injury. The Buckeyes appeared to be headed to their first loss until a senior back-up quarterback named Kenny Guiton, in the final minute, drove Ohio State down for the tying score and two-point conversion. Guiton then guided the Buckeyes to an overtime score and victory. It was the signature win of a remarkable 12-0 season. After the game on our Best Buckeye Coverage post-game show, I vividly remember former Buckeye coach, Hall of Famer and long time WTVN analyst Earle Bruce getting teary eyed talking about Guiton. Earle was choked because he was so overjoyed for Guiton--a kid whose career had largely been spent in anonymity.
"No matter what happens to him the rest of his life, he will always have that moment and Buckeye fans will always remember him for it," I remember Earle saying.
I thought of that when Williams came through. Up until Thursday, you could argue the most memorable thing about Williams career was his mysterious 3-game suspension last month. It came as the Buckeyes were in the thick of the Big Ten race. Among the games he missed was Ohio State's thrilling win at Purdue.
When he returned, he was a bench player, and the Buckeyes promptly lost two straight--at Penn State and at Michigan. In those games, Williams struggled, scoring a total of 6 points, on 3-9 shooting including 0-5 from 3-point range. On senior night against Rutgers, Williams was put back in the starting line-up. In the four games since, he's averaging 15 a game, including 22 in the South Dakota State win. He's shooting 53% from the floor and is 8-16 on 3-pointers. A career that looked like it was going to end with a fizzle, instead is ending with a sizzle. Good for him.
I'm hoping there's more to come. Maybe Kam Williams is poised to be part of an incredible tournament run for Buckeye team that has exceeded all expectations but if not--I'm happy for Kam Williams. Good for him.
"No matter what happens the rest of his life, he'll always have that moment and Buckeye fans will always remember him for it."