Like everyone, Kam Williams found a lot of downtime during the pandemic.
But he didn’t spend his days eating, making TikToks and watching Netflix. Instead, he used it to become a better basketball player.
Williams is a senior at Northeast High School and the starting wing is the only senior on the Vikings this year. And the guy you see on the floor is far different than the guy who was playing for Northeast prior to the pandemic.
“Growing up, I was always the smallest guy, but when I got to high school, I had a growth spurt,” Williams said. “By the time the pandemic hit, I was about 6 foot, so I was taller, and when it was over, I was 6-3. So I got a lot bigger. It was a great time to rest your body while also working to get better.
“It definitely made me a better player. When you’re taller, you can do a lot of things. The biggest thing is I can drive easier, I can get to the rim a lot easier because I’m taller. You can also shoot over people, which makes you a better shooter”
So did his work ethic.
During the pandemic, gyms were closed and there weren’t a lot of places where kids could play sports. But Williams, who lives near the Lawncrest Rec, spent his days on the outdoor courts, taking jump shot after jump shot after jump shot.
It’s been paying off ever since.
After starting the season 2-3, the Vikings have rebounded to win eight in a row to improve to 13-4 on the season. They’re also doing great in league play, sitting at 7-2 thus far.
Northeast hasn’t had an easy schedule, either. The Vikings have played teams like Pennsbury and La Salle during the early part of the schedule, which had them ready to play against the teams in the Public League.
For Williams, it’s exciting to see his young squad grow up quickly and be contenders for a Public League championship.
“It’s rough being the only senior on the team, but it’s fun, too, because it’s my job to make sure everyone gets better,” Williams said. “I like that we have great competition. The better teams we play, the better we get. And the younger guys are really doing well. They handle their part as much as the older guys.”
Williams is the perfect leader for the team.
As a scorer, Williams can light it up. He leads the team, scoring an average of nearly 19 points per game, and does so while shooting 50 percent from the field. He also pulls down nearly six rebounds per game, which ranks second on the team.
He thinks his greatest trait is the ability to put up points, but he also realizes that he has to do the other things, not only to help the team on the floor, but to show his teammates that you have to be able to contribute in many ways.
“I love helping them, it’s fun because you can see them get better,” Williams said. “And when I score, like as far as me shooting, it gets everyone hyped.
“I try to be the spark plug, I get our team going, but we have a lot of guys who get the team going. We have another guy, Darris (Gaeta), he can pass, he does a great job of getting other players shots. He’s a great player, too. We have a lot of good, young players. I’m just doing what I can to help them.”
He’s also proud of how the team has matured as the season has gone on.
“The strength of this team, we’re really strong, but when we had a little adversity, we needed to work through it,” Williams said. “We are working on dealing with that. Our attitude is a lot better, for sure. We know what we have to do, and we all want to play together. Our coach has helped us a lot with that too. I’m happy with how far we’ve come with that.”
He’s also come far in the classroom, where he excels. He’s also a proud member of the Black Student Association.
“We talk about things that happen, history, stuff that’s going on now. I like that club, it’s pretty fun,” Williams said. “A few basketball players are in it, we discuss important topics. We just learned about the Black Panthers. You learn history and current events.”
Williams is starting to figure out his future. It will definitely include basketball.
“Next year, I’m thinking about going to college for sure, and definitely playing basketball,” Williams said. “For a major? Criminology, or something. I like that because you can be a lawyer or something, you can help people, you can defend people, and you make a lot of money. That seems like a cool job.”
But before he moves on to college, he still has a lot of unfinished business to tend to at Northeast. And he’s confident it will be a memorable campaign for him and his teammates.
“I think we can with a ‘chip,” Williams said. “We have a good team. We still have work to do, but I think we can be a very good team. We’re getting better every game.”