Charlotte transfer Brice Williams is pretty competitive; just ask his girlfriend.
His success on the basketball court speaks to that competitiveness, but it extends beyond the court as well. At a recent team outing to a bowling alley, he rolled a 235 — the result of six months of practice.
“I started talking to my now girlfriend in maybe February, and we started going on bowling dates, and we’re so competitive,” Williams said. “We’re so competitive, and she bowls a 130, 150 consistently, and I bowl like a 170-plus.”
Williams said the 235 was simply a good day, but it wasn’t all luck. He taught himself to bowl better by doing his homework.
“I watch YouTube videos; me and my boys would go,” Williams said. “I watch YouTube videos on golf; me and my boys golf. Any way I can get a competitive edge, I’ll start watching videos and trying to learn because I don’t want anybody to have one-up on me. Me and my boys are competitive. My girlfriend’s competitive. We play card games and she’ll storm off and go to the room because I beat her, and I’m the same way. I guess it’s how I’m wired.”
That wiring led to a breakout third season at Charlotte as he led the 49ers with 13.8 points per game last season, and an opportunity to transfer up and play in a high-major conference followed. He elevated his game even more over the final two months of the season.
“Just being more aggressive and not just focusing on offense,” Williams said. “I can be aggressive and make a difference in the game without scoring. I can rebound; I guess my numbers towards the end of the season jumped. Talking––that was big. Leadership was big. Just just focusing on different aspects of the game besides putting the ball in the hole. That’s what really made my game jump and made us go to the next level.”
Now Williams is looking to carry that over to this season at Nebraska. He wasn’t able to join the program for the first summer session, which has made the last few weeks very busy for him as he’s moved to Lincoln.
“Moving itself is hard — buying furniture, moving into my own place, after practice handling my house stuff,” Williams said. “But on the court, I’ve just been loaded with all the new terminology, the concepts and everything. But it’s been nothing short of a good time. It kind of brings me back to my freshman year when I first got to college, and I’m learning all new stuff and I’m messing up every time. But I’ve actually taken a different approach where it’s not getting me down. It’s more so this is the next step to get me better. This is the next stage of my development. So it’s been a good time.”
Though the 6-foot-7, 210-pound wing hasn’t been in town long, he’s already turned some heads with his performance in the practice gym.
“He’s only been here on the court for about two weeks,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He was finishing up a class in the first four-week summer session. And he’s really, really talented and really skilled. He can shoot it, he can handle it, I think we’re going to be able to use him in the post as a mismatch perimeter guy, and he can really guard. He’s got great feet, obviously learning from [Charlotte coach] Ron Sanchez, who was in the Virginia system for a long time. He’s got great fundamentals and great feet on the defensive end. I think he gives us really good versatility. He can really score. He’s just a natural scorer, and he can score it at all three levels.”
Williams said the extra practices leading up to the trip to Spain have been particularly valuable for him and the other newcomers, even if they haven’t been able to spend a lot of time playing five-on-five because of the team’s current limited roster.
“We do a lot of 5-on-0, run through plays,” Williams said. “So it’s just getting smoother, more and more smooth every day. You can tell the difference from the first day I’ve been on campus running plays and today, so the concepts are getting down.”
Williams described Nebraska’s offense as free-flowing, fast-paced and are to guard when everyone is on the same page.
“It’s going to be tough for teams to guard us this year with our scoring, with our shooting, with our passing,” Williams said. “We’re really unselfish.”
Williams shot 39.7% from 3, 40.2% on mid-range jumpers and 66.4% at the rim, and he sees his three-level scoring and his ability to guard multiple positions makes hime a great fit for Nebraska’s system.
“I’ll definitely bring scoring to the table, leadership to the table with my experience,” Williams said. “I’ll also bring defensive versatility; I’m a slim guy, but I can guard one through four. So that’ll be very valuable. I can handle the ball, so I can play multiple positions on the ball. I bring a lot of versatility as well as a lot of the guys on the team, so that just makes us that much harder to guard and that much harder to score on.”
While he’s only been on campus a few weeks, Williams is one of eight upperclassmen on the roster. Only Josiah Allick and Rienk Mast have scored more points at the Division I level than Williams. The departures of Sam Giresel, Derrick Walker have left a large void in leadership, and Williams is looking to help fill that void, starting with this trip to Spain.
“I never really wanted to be a leader, necessarily,” Williams said. “I never sought out to be a leader, but it kind of like happens naturally. Whether it’s shared experiences, whether it’s just guiding somebody. It means nothing to get there alone; you always want to reach back and bring somebody with you, which is what Sanchez taught me, my old coach. So leadership is big. Leadership takes a lot. But you’re nothing if you’re not bringing anybody else with you. You don’t want to get to the top by yourself.”
Williams and the 49ers qualified for a postseason tournament last year, and that’s what he’s looking to help Nebraska do this season as well. He’s also excited about the prospect of playing at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“I’m looking forward to taking the next step in my development, playing on a bigger stage, just playing in front of the fans,” Williams said. “I know it’s going to be a whole different atmosphere, and it’s all exciting.”