LSU was not only able to hire Matt McMahon as its new men’s basketball coach, but the Tigers have relied somewhat on his former players to replenish their roster.
McMahon released the third signature from one of his former players Thursday with the addition of 6-foot-10, 245-pound KJ Williams – the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year.
“I am incredibly proud to officially welcome KJ Williams and his entire family to LSU,” McMahon said in a school release. “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, a native of Cleveland, Mississippi, joins fellow Murray State players Justice Hill and Tre Hannibal who previously signed with school. Williams said in March he intended to enter the NBA Draft and preserve his eligibility by not signing with an agent but wound up entering the NCAA transfer portal and followed McMahon where after scoring 1,667 points, grabbing more than 800 rebounds and making 82 3-pointers in four years.
Williams will have one year of eligibility remaining and increases LSU’s list of scholarship players to 11, nine of which have been signed through the transfer portal and three high school prospects.
“I chose LSU because I have great relationships with the coaches and it’s on a bigger stage where I know I could play,” Williams said to On3. “Me being in the position I’m in, I know I can play in the SEC against top players in the country.”
Williams averaged a double-double during the 2021-22 season, helping Murray State to a 31-3 overall record and OVC title with a perfect 18-0 mark. The seventh-seeded Racers defeated San Francisco in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament (Williams scored 15 points with nine rebounds) before falling to St. Peter’s (he had a team-high 19) in the second round.
Williams topped the OVC in scoring at 18 points, averaged 8.4 rebounds and shot 53.8% from the field. He earned OVC Player of the Week five times and was selected nationally as the Oscar Robertson Player of the Week. He also led the steals in steals (48) and was tied for the lead in blocks (21).
He scored a career-high 39 points against Tennessee State and scored 30-plus points in two other games with 33 against Tennessee-Martin and 30 versus Belmont.
Williams earned the first of his two OVC first team awards during his junior season where he averaged 15.6 points and 8.5 rebounds. He scored in double figures in 21 of 26 games with a high of 28 points and 14 rebounds against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. He also averaged double figures as a sophomore with 13.7 points, scoring in double figures 24 times, to go with 7.4 rebounds.
The former standout at Cleveland Central High, whose mother Amie Williams played at Jackson State, averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds as a senior and helped his team to the second round of the state tournament. With 16 double-doubles, including a high of 27 points, he was voted to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game.
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