Howard has lost one high-powered underclassman guard but it will be bringing back another.
Rising senior Charles “CJ” Williams is returning to HU for his senior season after declaring for the NBA Draft. Williams confirmed the news with HBCU Gameday after Jon Rothstein was the first to report.
Williams told HBCU Gameday he chose to return to Howard despite receiving interest from teams from the Big East, the Atlantic-10 and the ACC.
“Georgetown, Virginia Tech, UMass and Boston College were a few (teams) that called and expressed interest in getting me to transfer,” Williams told HBCU Gameday. “The whole thought process with that was I kinda didn’t want to transfer and then sit out for a year and then play when I only have one season left.”
I love Howard
His father, Charles Sr., says he doesn’t think his son seriously entertained leaving Howard. He says that one school even told his son they would be able to get him a waiver and play this upcoming season.
“Me…I don’t know if I could have done it. I would have been like ‘I like Howard, I really do’ but I don’t know if I would have turned a UMass down,” Charles Sr. said.
The 6’6 guard from Richmond averaged 17.9 ppg as a junior has been an All-MEAC selection in each of the past two seasons after being named MEAC Freshman of the Year in the 2016-17 season. He said adding to his legacy at Howard was a big part of why he decided to return.
“I’ve made such an impact at Howard and I’ve stamped my name on their program. After that it kind of just made the decision to come back pretty easy. And I love Howard. I love the atmosphere around campus. I love the program…everything. I didn’t want to leave.”
That’s a sentiment that many MEAC stars haven’t shared in recent years, including Williams’ running mate RJ Cole. The reigning MEAC Player of The Year also declared for the NBA Draft after the season, and he ultimately decided to transfer to UConn.
“I’m not too worried about it. I know he’s gonna do his thing over at UConn, I’m gonna do my thing at Howard and I know with the pieces that we’re bringing in as far as freshmen and the people that are coming back.”
Blakeney’s first win
One other familiar face that won’t be back at Howard is Kevin Nickelberry. The coach who recruited Williams and guided him through his first three seasons was let go following the team’s loss to Norfolk State in the MEAC. His replacement, Kenny Blakeney, made getting Williams to return a priority.
“He kind of talked to me about the role that he wanted to have me play on the team and also what he was trying to do as far as the future,” Williams said. “He just seemed like a really down to earth guy.”
Not only did Blakeney win over Williams and his family with words, he did it with actions. He and his entire staff drove down from DC to Williams’ home in Richmond, Virginia to hammer home that he wanted him to be a building block for the program.
“After that, it kind of made it simple,” Williams said.
He hasn’t coached a game yet, but it looks like Kenny Blakeney just picked up his first win at Howard.