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Archive for Wednesday, April 20, 1994

TRAVIS WILLIAMS

April 20, 1994

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At first, Rozel-Pawnee Heights basketball coach Russell Hake was surprised to learn Kansas had offered his prize pupil a scholarship.

But the more he thought about the potential exhibited by 7-foot-2, 265-pound center Travis Williams, the more it made sense. Williams will sign a national letter of intent with KU if he scores at least 17 on the ACT.

"I do think he's got major-college potential," Hake said of the Class 1A player. "I've heard (Bryant) Reeves wasn't an exceptional player at the high school level. I heard (Greg) Ostertag wasn't exceptional at that level. I don't know what will happen. Maybe he can't play at that level. But it's interesting KU is willing to take a chance on a 7-foot kid, who has a good attitude and has some skills."

Williams averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, but tallied over 28 points a game the last 10 games. He had 30 points, 23 rebounds and 11 blocks in one game.

"His biggest problems now are getting up and down the court. It'll be tough for him to adjust to the fast-paced game in college," Hake said. "He was not aggressive going for rebounds. His timing isn't good.

"It seemed he was scared at our level. He was scared of getting in foul trouble. They (refs) wouldn't let him pound so he didn't. It almost made him timid rebounding-wise."

Until the past three years, since his family moved from Larned, Williams had been timid in all areas.

"He was tall (6-foot-8) in junior high and probably real awkward," Hake said. "Apparently nobody gave him much of a shot and he was ridiculed for being tall and clumsy. It took him time to develop, but he's come a long way. I still haven't figured out why kids would get on him. He's really an exceptional person."

KU started to recruit Williams late in the season, Hake said. Williams attended the KU-Iowa State game in Allen Fieldhouse.

"Travis came back and said they were thinking of offering him a full-ride. I was caught surprised. I didn't think that would happen," Hake said. "Now it's a deal where we're waiting on academics. We know what has to be done."

That is, pass the ACT.

"I told him to relax and take the test. If he doesn't make it, maybe junior college would be good for him anyway," Hake said.

Hake believes Williams will be a major success story at Kansas, however.

"He has the skills that are tough to coach. He has great touch with the ball," Hake said, noting Williams hit 65 percent of his floor shots, 71 percent of his free throws. "You can't teach somebody to be 7-2. You can teach somebody to bang inside, be aggressive and get up and down court."

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