Kentucky officially sign Drexel transfer forward
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Kentucky officially sign Drexel transfer forward

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Mark Pope’s first transfer portal addition as Wildcats head coach is official, with the signing of Drexel transfer forward Amari Williams on Tuesday.

“At times, Amari Williams looks like a man among boys on the court,” Pope remarked in a press release. “He is three-time conference defensive player of the year, which is extremely difficult to achieve. He will contribute significantly to the game as a rim protector and rebounder. Amari is a great defensive player who can play any position from one to five, adding security to how everyone else feels on the court.

“Offensively, he’s dangerous at the rim and one of the best passers in college basketball.” Amari can make all of the reads, passes, and plays, and he fits in perfectly on either end of the floor.

His decision comes after meeting Pope last Thursday and visiting Lexington last weekend, when he was seen with Pope at Keenland Saturday and Kentucky Proud Park Sunday.

Williams chose the Wildcats over former Kentucky head coach Rick Pitino, St. John’s, and SEC opponent Mississippi State.

The 6-foot-10 forward from England will be a fifth-year senior with one year of eligibility left. He is presently ranked as the 63rd top player on the transfer portal and the 14th best center.

Williams played just 4.0 minutes per game off the bench for Drexel as a true freshman in 2020-21, but his role increased as a sophomore, when he averaged 9.5 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.1 assists, shot 52.1 percent from the field, and 50.0 percent from three on six attempts, earning him the Coastal Athletic Association defensive player of the year and third-team All-conference honors.

As a junior in 2022-23, he started all 30 games for the Dragons, averaging 13.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 1.4 steals while shooting 52.3% from the floor. He was selected CAA Defensive Player of the Year again, becoming only the second player in school history to earn the title in consecutive years.

This past season, he started all 32 Drexel games, averaging 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 0.8 steals. He made 51.9 percent of his shots from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range. Williams was voted the CAA’s defensive player of the year for the third consecutive year, becoming the first in league history to do so while simultaneously receiving first-team All-conference recognition.

He had a season-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Monmouth, 17 points and six blocks against UNC Wilmington, and eight double-doubles on the year.

Kentucky struggled on defense last season under John Calipari, finishing 109th in defensive efficiency and 334th in scoring defense, surrendering 79.7 points per game. Thus, Williams adds a much-needed great defensive presence to Pope’s debut lineup while also scoring well around the hoop and occasionally from outside.

Williams is the third member of Pope’s debut roster, following former four-star high school recruit Collin Chandler, who will be a college freshman this season after serving a two-year mission, and incoming four-star freshman Travis Perry from Lyon County, Kentucky.

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