Kenrich Williams Says OKC Thunder's Jalen Williams is 'Not Your Normal Rising Star'

In his end-of-season exit interview, veteran forward Kenrich Williams had high praise for one of his younger teammates.
Dec 26, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32)
Dec 26, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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On Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder held its 2024 exit interviews, where all 15 rostered players and Mark Daigneault answer questions from the press following the end of the season.

During forward Kenrich Williams' press conference, the sixth-year veteran was asked about Jalen Williams after saying last year that the former Santa Clara standout would blossom into an All-Star.

When asked how he felt about his comments a year later, the TCU product doubled down, adding that Williams' talent and versatility was evident from the first time they shared the court in practice.

"Yeah, I'm thinking about being a GM in the future," Kenrich said jokingly. "He was just a complete player coming out of college, and I seen it the first day we kind of played pickup together. I was like, man, this dude can do it all. Defends at a high level, can score the ball, pass the ball well, and he's super competitive. The thing about J-Dub is he's just a different type of guy. He's not your normal rising star. He's got a little different type of swag to him. You add that on with the gifts and abilities that he has, and I think that the future is super bright for him."

After finishing as the runner up to Paolo Banchero for the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, Williams took another step forward in his second season. Williams, who turned 23-years-old just after the Thunder's regular season finale, averaged 19.1 points, 4.5 assists, four rebounds and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 54% from the floor and 42.7% from 3-point range in his second professional season.

Listed at nearly 6-foot-6 with great strength and a wingspan just over 7-foot-2, Williams has great intangibles to go along with his solid shooting, playmaking and ball handling abilities that could help him earn an All-Star bid at some point in his career.

"He's a different guy. Y'all see the outfits and the swag he has. It's not normal, but that's what makes him unique. He's not afraid to be different," Kenrich continued. "As a rising player in the league, you've got to be different. Something about you has to be different. It just so happens to be his swag and his game."

Williams also appears to have a great work ethic, as he noticeably improved multiple areas of his game from his rookie to sophomore season. While the talented 23-year-old did struggle in the Thunder's Western Conference Semifinals series against the Dallas Mavericks, Williams bounced back with a strong performance in Game 6, tallying 22 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block.

The second-year standout's ability to bounce back in such a crucial moment showcases Williams' mental toughness and is a good indication that he should be a solid playoff performer in his career.

After a solid season for Williams, the talented wing will now have another offseason to work on his craft and try to push his way into the All-Star conversation in 2025.

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Randall Sweet


Randall Sweet is a 2022 Oklahoma University graduate who has formerly written for the Norman Transcript and OU Daily. Randall also serves as the Communications Coordinator at Visit OKC.