In case you missed it, Kenrich Williams went fully #KennyHustle on the Houston Rockets last night, pulling down a career-high 16 boards, scoring eight points, and playing great defense in 30 minutes, helping a Pelicans team that was without four of their five starters pull off an upset win on the road.
Prior to Tuesday night’s explosion, Williams had not played more than 18 minutes in any single game, and his previous career-high rebounds was just four. But with a swarth of injuries, and the potential of a major roster shakeup on the way due to the Anthony Davis trade request, Williams may get an opportunity to not just gobble up minutes, but earn a role going forward. His teammates believe he’s ready, including star Jrue Holiday. “It’s everything that I’ve already seen. We’ve got guys here who can play. Guys who can step up. I felt like we really utilized everyone’s strengths. Kenrich was a board machine, and he sits down and guards (on defense). He’s tough.”
Tough is certainly an apt description for Kenrich, a player who came to TCU via the juco ranks after not being offered out of high school - despite growing up in the shadows of Baylor University - a player who overcame multiple injuries to put together a career for the Horned Frogs that will likely have his number hanging in the rafters of Schollmaier Arena someday. Tough is his philosophy on rebounding, too. “That’s all rebounding is about. Just go in every time, playing hard, and giving it all you’ve got.”
For Williams to stick in the league, he’s going to have to continue to excel in the toughness quotient, grabbing boards, attacking the offensive glass, and playing great defense. But, it doesn’t hurt to get your name out there - and grabbing 16 boards in a single game, after having just 15 IN HIS CAREER going into Tuesday will do just that. So will writing your name in the record books next to Blake Griffin’s:
More @bball_ref fun:— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) January 30, 2019
Tonight, Kenrich Williams became the first player since Blake Griffin in 2010 to go for 16+ rebounds in one of the first 15 games of their career. pic.twitter.com/wNGIdhs3hq
For the Pelicans, who have more questions than answers over the next few months, letting the young guys show out is more of a blessing than a curse. “With everybody being out, we came together,” Jahlil Okafor said. “The message was to have fun, play together, give it your all, and we’ll live with the outcome. We huddled up before the game and said let’s have fun, this is what we dream of. A lot of guys who haven’t been able to play had the opportunity. Let’s make the most of it. To get to the NBA, you have to put a lot of time in on your craft to be here. I think everybody just wanted to show how good they are. When we play that hard and play together, it gives us a chance to win.” Williams made the most of it, and will have more chance going forward, hopefully. For him, the experience - in front of a gaggle of family and friends, was ‘a blessing’. “I had a lot of family and friends here, so it’s good to be back home [in Texas] and, in front of family and friends, get an opportunity like this. It’s a true blessing.”
Whether they trade Davis now, or wait it out until the summer when they will have more options on the table, Williams is likely to get a long look going forward, as Alvin Gentry and the Pels brass determine what his role for the franchise may be going forward. TCU fans know that should be a good thing for New Orleans.