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2018 Male Athlete of the Year Finalist: Kenrich Williams

TCU’s star forward made an indelible impact on the program.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round: Syracuse Orange vs TCU Horned Frogs
Kenrich Williams helped lead the TCU Horned Frogs to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two decades.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Think about every cliche you know about hard-working, unorthodox basketball players that grind their way through games and will teams to victory. Then give that mass of cliches a shag hairdo. Presto, you’ve got Kenrich Williams.

TCU’s talisman averaged 13.2 points and 9.3 rebounds a game in 2017-18. He was a double-double machine, with 13 double-doubles last season alone. Against New Mexico, he scored 23 points and grabbed 17 rebounds; in a win over SMU, he posted a season-high 27 points and hauled in 9 rebounds.

The stats tell a large portion of the story. The eye test tells the rest. Williams is one of those players that could’ve thrived in the 1970s just as easily as he did in the 2010s. It’s easy to picture David Halberstam or Bob Ryan waxing poetic about Williams as he played for the Dave Cowens-era Celtics or the Bill Walton-era Trail Blazers. He’s just that type of player — a solid shooter with a passion for crashing the glass and chasing down loose balls.

Thanks to his unwillingness to quit, TCU made it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two decades. Williams and the Frogs were bounced early by Syracuse, but it wasn’t his fault — he put up 14 and 8 in his lone March Madness game on 7-15 shooting. Now he’s with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Summer League, trying to take his game to the pro level.

There’s an old Townes Van Zandt song, “To Live Is To Fly.” The second verse ends with the lines “Where you been is good and gone/All you keep’s the getting there.” Kenrich Williams’ “getting there” has been a true pleasure to watch. And the TCU basketball program is markedly better thanks to his efforts.

That’s more than enough to make Williams the basketball nominee for the Frogs O’ War 2018 Male Athlete of the Year. Stay tuned for the rest of the nominees.