If he could, Broadneck senior Johnny Williams probably would play five sports. Unfortunately, the seasons conflict -- the year just isn'tlong enough.
"I started playing basketball, soccer and lacrosse for the Cape St. Clair Recreation Council when I was 6," said Williams, a standout in soccer, basketball and baseball. "I played lacrosse until I was 11, then I made the transition to baseball.
"When I was in ninth grade, I gave football a try, too. But I don't have the physical attributes you need."
As a defender, Williams, a slender 5-foot-11, 140-pounder, helped the Bruins' soccer team toa Class 4A state runner-up finish. He played five positions on the Broadneck baseball team, earning All-County honors in that sport.
But this winter finds Williams in his second season as the starting point guard on the Bruins basketball team. Coach Ken Kazmarek said Williams has what it takes to be a leader.
"Johnny is the ideal point guard for what we're trying to accomplish," said Kazmarek, whose Bruins have an 8-1 record. "The run-and-shoot offense is in vogue, but weneed a leader who can take advantage of what the other team is doingagainst us."
And what attributes must this leader have?
"You need a guy who is more or less flawless," said Kazmarek, in his seventh season. "(One) who can go right or left with strength and doesn't turn the ball over -- and still control the tempo."
Williams, whether working from half-court or bringing the ball forward from the backcourt, is capable of weaving the offense from a variety of angles andwith an arsenal of weaponry.
He is arguably among the area's best-- even the state's best -- ballhandlers. During the preseason, Williams was picked as one of the top three dribblers to watch in the Washington metropolitan area by The Washington Post.
So far, the second-year starter has proved himself worthy of that distinction.
"He's quick, and he's very difficult to get the ball away from," saidAnnapolis coach John Brady, whose Panthers (8-0), ranked No. 2 by The Sun, will take on the Bruins tonight. "I've seen a lot of teams trydifferent things on him, but they don't seem to be able to figure him out."
To hear Coach Kazmarek tell it, stopping Williams requires a supreme effort, and attempts are often futile. It's sort of like trying to dam a river with your feet: Sooner or later, Williams is going to get around you.
"When an opening occurs, Johnny can hurt you. He can really do some damage when you lay off of him," said Kazmarek. "(Boris) Beck scored a lot from the inside in the (Wes Unseld Classic) tournament, and probably five or six of his baskets came from Johnny. He doesn't try to be a one-man team. By the time he shoots theball, he's already passed it three or four times."
What makes hisaccomplishments even more surprising is that he often does his best work under pressure. Kazmarek said Williams constantly is targeted byopposing teams who usually put their best defensive players on him.
"He understands what he's going to get every time. They're going to put their quickest kid on him and try to dog him the whole game," said Kazmarek. "He's seen mostly man-to-man pressure, but he can handle it. When I need that second coach on the floor, it's like he has a mergence with my mind. When he has the ball in his hands, the team isreassured that he'll make the right decisions."
Even against the most intricate of defenses, Williams flows up the court. He casually can slip the ball behind his back or between his legs in mid-stride to avoid a lunging defender, or use his pinpoint passing to split a defense with a feed to an open teammate.
He is averaging 18.3 pointsand 6.7 assists from his point-guard post. In shooting three-pointers, Williams ranks second on the team with 14, behind Jeff Vincent with 22.
Using his 30-inch vertical leaping ability, Williams has been snagging rebounds at a rate of six per game. He has robbed opposingoffenses for 13 steals and he recently surpassed Cary Watts as the all-time assist leader at Broadneck with 206. Watts had 198.
"It's really been up to Johnny to mold this team into those personalities of the past, and he's had some good role models," said Kazmarek.
Asa sophomore, Kazmarek brought Williams up from the junior varsity based on his ability to handle the ball and his composure under pressure. He spent his first varsity season as a reserve behind 6-foot-1 guard Watts and ended with 38 assists.
"If Watts got in foul trouble or when he went to the post, we'd just bring in Johnny," said Kazmarek.
As a junior, Williams averaged eight points and six assists perouting, helping the Bruins to a 20-4 record and a runner-up finish in the county.
"He started every game last year," said Kazmarek. "He was surrounded by several seniors like Matt Campbell, and he made sure that they got the ball when they needed to."
Last summer, Williams worked on his shooting and defense.