CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It is always tough to follow up a legend, but it’s even harder when that legend is one of the best players in a program’s history and he is your father. That’s what Hopewell senior guard/forward Brice Williams will do next year when he gets on the campus of Charlotte to suit up for the 49ers basketball team.
Brice’s father is Henry Williams who is the 49ers all time leading scorer with over 23 hundred points and has his jersey retired in the rafters of Halton Arena.
Big shoes to fill for Brice, but that doesn’t phase him.
“My expectations are higher," said Brice Williams. “I hold myself to a high standard.”
Every father would love to see their son play at the place where he stared, but that won’t be the case in this story. Henry passed away in March of 2018 to kidney disease.
And even though Brice doesn’t have his father here to critique his game, he can still hear him saying...
“Come on son!”
It has been rough on Brice, but a positive to come out of losing his father at an early age has been his growth and maturity.
“It allowed him to find his own voice,” said Hopewell head basketball coach Mike McNeil. “For a lot of his career especially early, his dad was always there to tell him what he should do, what type of player he should be, how he should respond to certain situations and then all of a sudden, he’s got to figure it out on his own and he has done a good job.”
That growth and maturity has led Brice to have a senior season at Hopewell where he is averaging a career high 21 points per game.
As he gets ready to head to Charlotte next fall, Brice is going to a program that has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005 and is struggling once again this season as they are 5-18. There is some irony in Brice following in his father’s footsteps to Charlotte. The Niners were in a bit of a tournament slump before Henry got there-- only 1 appearance in 11 seasons, but in Henry’s senior year, Charlotte won the Metro Conference Championships and went back to the tournament.
“My dad came there and put the city on the map and now it’s just another generation trying to come back and lift it up,” said Brice.
“When I got to Hopewell, Hopewell was down,” said coach McNeil. “He was the young guy, the young talented kid that I knew at the end of the day was going to be the guy that was going to get us back to where we’ve been in the past. So he’s already been through a rebuild.”
At 6 foot 7, there isn’t much Brice can’t do. He can handle the ball, brings big time energy, and can score with the best of them. Comparing his game to his dad’s, he says it’s getting close to pop’s game, but there is one thing he lacks that his father had.
“The killer mentality,” said Brice. “He probably shot more consistent than me but I do so many more different things. I handle the ball better, I’m way more athletic due to my length and stature. He was more explosive, but that’s coming.”
Brice’s excitement is high to play for coach Ron Sanchez and you can tell that because he’s already preaching the first fundamental of any Sanchez led team... DEFENSE!
“Defense always leads to offense so I’m going to want to play it more," said Brice with a smile on his face. “Defense is going to be number one.”
Brice has a message to Niner Nation before he gets there in the fall.
“Get ready to win and see some tournaments!”
So while the footsteps he tries to fill are big, Brice is already aiming high.