BATON ROUGE – LSU men’s basketball head coach Matt McMahon has added one of the stars of his 2021-22 Murray State basketball team to the Tiger roster with the signing Thursday of forward KJ Williams of Cleveland, Mississippi.
Williams was the 2022 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, the 16th different player to win the honor from Murray State. The 6-10 senior has scored 1,600 points and 800 rebounds in his four years at Murray State, becoming the third Racer to hit those marks in their career. He also was named first-team all-conference three-years while at Murray State.
Williams will have one season to play at LSU because of the Covid extension given players by the NCAA.
Williams in 2021-22 averaged 18.0 points a game, 8.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals a game while averaging 29 minutes, starting all 34 games.
Williams won OVC Player of the Week five times this past season, twice being named the national player of the week, and in Division I, he ranked fourth in field goals made (223), shooting 54.4 percent from the field. In the OVC, Williams was first in the league in points per game and field goals made.
Williams scored 39 points in 2021-22 against Tennessee State, making 15-of-22 field goals, 33 against Tennessee Martin and 30 against Belmont.
Williams played on three conference championship teams and made two NCAA tournament appearances in 2018-19 and 2021-22, advancing to the round of 32 both years.
“I am incredibly proud to officially welcome KJ Williams and his entire family to LSU,” said Coach McMahon. “KJ perfectly fits the profile of what we are building in Baton Rouge … elite talent, high character, great toughness, unselfish teammate, and the ability to impact winning. It has been very rewarding to watch his development throughout his career.
“KJ is skilled in the post, effective in our ball screen system, and also shoots the ball extremely well from the three. I am so thankful for this unique opportunity to coach KJ for another year before he begins his professional career. We cannot wait for his arrival on campus this summer.”
Williams made 22 starts in his first season of 2018-19, setting the Murray State single-season field goal percentage record by hitting 111-of-159 shots (69.8%). He averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game.
As a sophomore, he posted a 13.7 points per game average and grabbed 7.4 rebounds, with seven double doubles and scoring in double figures 24 times with four games of 20 or more.
In his junior season (2020-21), Williams scored in double figures in 21-of-26 games topped by 28 points and 14 rebounds against SIUE and 26 points and 11 rebounds versus Southeast Missouri. He upped his scoring average to 15.6 points per game and 8.5 rebounds a contest.
Through four seasons, he has made 676-of-1,190 field goals, shooting 56.8% with 82 three-pointers made. He shot 61.9 percent over his career inside the arc, including 71.4 percent as a freshman. Williams has scored 1,667 in his 124 games at Murray State, averaging 13.4 points a game for his career, while averaging 7.2 rebounds a game.
Williams attended Cleveland Central High School in Cleveland, Mississippi, the hometown of former LSU Basketball player Johnny O’Bryant III (2011-14). Williams averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds in his senior season of 2017-18 to help his team advance to the second round of the Mississippi State Tournament. The year was highlighted by a 27-point-28-rebound game against West Tallahatchie.
He also recorded a triple double against Indianola Gentry with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks.
This brings the scholarship total to 11 for LSU for the 2022-23 season as KJ Williams joins transfer signees Kendal Coleman of Northwestern State, Murray State teammates Justice Hill and Trae Hannibal, Cam Hayes of NC State and Derek Fountain of Mississippi State.
LSU has two members of its 2021-22 team scheduled to return in Mwani Wilkinson and Justice Williams.
The Tigers have also brought in prep signees Tyrell Ward (DeMatha Catholic), Jalen Reed (Southern California Academy) and Corneilous Williams (Combine Academy).
(Courtesy: LSU Athletics)