On the road to success
April 11, 2014
GLEN ROCK, N.J. – In basketball, it takes a whole team to turn a flagging reputation around.
But it takes certain inspiring athletes to do just that, serving as a rallying point for the team. That ‘key role’ could simultaneously be a scorer, hard worker, floor general, and more.
For Glen Rock High School’s Boys’ Basketball team, this person was Khalil Williams.
Williams played in his third year of varsity basketball. To say that he ‘stepped up’ for his team would be an understatement. The junior guard averaged 19 points per game, was Second Team All-County and First Team All-League.
He has put in a lot of work throughout his basketball career to get to where he is today. There are plenty of reasons why he likes basketball and why he plays it but, there are a couple of reasons that stick out to Williams.
“I like how it’s fast paced and generally requires quick thinking,” said Williams. “I play it because I was never really good when I was younger so I just decided that I would be the best by the end and I’m trying my hardest to do that.”
He has done just that so far.
Throughout his high school athletic career, he has improved from a mental and physical standpoint.
But it’s not all about basketball for Khalil, as academics are a huge priority for him. He takes many advanced placement courses and maintains a high grade point average. He sees himself going down the road of engineering.
“I love engineering,” said Williams. “I’m a big science guy; I am a huge fan of physics. It’s hard to describe but, with physics it’s real. With subjects like chemistry it’s not as hands-on and with physics there is a lot of hands-on work. For me there is a lot to like with physics.”
Khalil also dedicates much time to his family life, maintaining close relationships with his family members.
He has an older brother Malik, who currently attends Georgetown University, and a younger brother Zach, who is in the Glen Rock Middle School.
“I am really close with my brothers,” said Williams. “My older brother has influenced me a whole lot because he was always better than me growing up, so it’s always been a battle to be on the top. You always want to be like your older brother, so I really have looked up to him.”
“My little brother has influenced me because he gets great joy out of seeing me play well, so he’s always on my mind when I’m trying to do that. He looks up to me… I get a lot of joy out of playing by seeing him so happy to watch me play.”
Williams’ father, however, is the one who introduced his son to basketball.
“Basketball has been such an enjoyable sport for me to play and watch over the years,” said Khalil’s father. “I wanted to share that with Khalil as a youngster and hoped that someday we could compete with and against one another. Khalil was very energetic, fearless and athletic as a little kid. I thought he was perfectly suited to excel at playing basketball.”
Mr. Williams is very proud of his son and is happy with the person he has grown up to be. “Khalil is a positive, even-keeled, unselfish and caring young man,” he said. “He is quietly confident and possesses his own inner drive to succeed. Khalil is quite mature for his age, but still retains the ‘little kid’ inside of him, which is quite refreshing to see at times.”
And on the court
Another person he looks up to is basketball captain Zach Lucca (’14). Lucca, who has been said to be a great leader, typifies qualities that Williams will carry with him when he steps into a leadership role.
“Next year, Khalil will have to step up and be even better leader,” said Lucca. “Losing eight seniors is tough; it’s his team and he is going to have to be much more vocal. I see Khalil becoming a first team all-county scorer and helping the program secure another winning season.”
Lucca, who recently spoke to The Glen Echo, loved playing together and believes that Williams will step into the leadership role that he and his fellow captains, Christian Vila and Jeff Ross, had occupied.
“Khalil was a great teammate,” said Lucca. “His passion and commitment was second to none. He’s constantly pushing himself to get better, something that rubs off on his teammates. He would do anything to win. He hit so many clutch shots this year and was our go to scorer. He did a great job of creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
Williams, too, is looking forward to next season. He knows just how important it is for others to play their roles.
“Next year we want to pick up from where we finished last year,” he said. “We look to bring up some more kids to varsity and you will see some players take on a bigger role than they did last year.”
Williams also already knows what type of role he will have to take on: “I will have to take on more of a leadership role next year.”
“I need to be a lot more vocal because I won’t have the great guys like Zach Lucca and them. Some of the guys returning like Mike Szawaluk will help with that but, I think for scoring it will be about the same. This year I am going to focus on trying not to do too much because there are times where I try to do too much. I will have to improve on my rebounding because we are losing Jeff Ross, our big man from last year. I think we are going to be good next year. I’m really looking forward to it.”
He has also learned certain things from this past season that he looks to bring into next year.
“I learned that not one man can do it alone because the only way we can be successful is if it’s a team effort,” he said. “The captains this year really set the tone. Everyone on the team knew their role and if we do that next year I think we can be successful.“
Glen Rock in the past couple of years has been seen as a football, soccer, and baseball town. With this season Khalil believes that we will become more of a basketball town.
“I think you are going to see kids start to focus on basketball more now that we had a great year,” said Williams. “Everyone looks at this town as a football town because everyone loves football and the football team deserves [it] because of how successful they’ve been in the past. Now I’m not saying that kids should only play basketball, but I think kids will put more time and effort into it. Also if more kids start to play in college from high school, like some of our former players have, more kids will focus on it.”
Coach Mittleman, Glen Rock’s Boys’ Basketball Head Coach, has obviously changed the way people think about Glen Rock Basketball. Khalil knows this and is grateful to have him as a coach.
“Playing under Coach Mittleman has been an awesome experience,” he said. “Although he is very intense he is or of the funniest people I know and a great coach. Personally he always is teaching me not only lessons on the court but generally life lessons. For the team this year especially he always made sure to keep us focused and ready, no matter who the opponent or our record.”
Playing basketball in college in something the junior guard is interested in and has gotten involved with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The AAU is becoming more and more important as high school basketball continues to evolve. Williams will play AAU this summer with Wayne P.A.L. Wolfpack.
“With the Wolfpack, I want to win as much as possible and get seen by college coaches,” he said. And with his strong academic background, it will be that much easier to be able to play on the next level.
Williams not only wants to be successful for this year, but also hopes that next year’s team leaves a lasting impact. He also hopes that this program has a bright future ahead.
“I hope what we do this year excites kids,” Williams said. “A lot of little kids came to watch our state games so I really hope it excites them and makes them want to be a part of it. I really hope we can take what he learned from last year and even do better, which will be hard but I think we can. For any team in the future you really don’t want to have a down year because a down year really sets you back.”
“Our town may be small, but it’s still very athletic. If we can get kids to play and enjoy it, we will be successful for many years to come.”