One gander at 6-foot-3, 215-pound Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.)
senior Kasen Williams
and one thinks Apollo
or Terrell Owens
His combination of strength and speed and leaping ability is why he's able to dominate defensive backs, power over power forwards and leap to the end of sand pits.
But what sets Williams apart is that he possesses an unusual combination of Larry Bird-like competitiveness and Buddha-like focus and refinement.
All of the above is why MaxPreps.com has named the remarkable three-sport standout its 2010-11 National Athlete of the Year.
“The biggest thing is that he’s just so calm and collected,” Skyline football coach Matt Taylor told MaxPreps senior writer Dave Krider last month. “When the lights come on, he just has that extra competitiveness.”
Said Skyline high jump coach Michael Seymour: “He absolutely refuses to lose. If it’s in his power and within the rules, he’ll win.”
Like when West Valley (Spokane, Wash.)
senior Rashad Toussant broke the state record in the triple jump earlier this season with a mark of 50 feet, 8.75 inches. Not only did he set the state standard but he broke the 34-year mark held by of all people Aaron Williams, Kasen’s father.
Kasen Williams would have none of that. He snatched the record right back and kept it in the family while winning one of three state track titles, going 50-9.25. It was the third best mark in the nation this year.
He also won the long jump (24-5.25) – the sixth best mark in the country – and the high jump (6-10), just off his best of 6-11, among the top 10 national performances of the season.
“My dad told me it was up to me to get it back,” Kasen said of the triple-jump mark. “I was extremely happy for me and my dad because we put in so much work.”
Kasen seemed to will his long jump record as well. Kentwood (Covington, Wash.)
standout B.J. Arceneaux had taken the state long jump lead at 24-2. Kasen had just one jump remaining and rather than tighten or stress, he centered himself and pulled off a lifetime best to take home his third state crown and cap a remarkable senior year.
Well done grasshopper.
"There was some magic there,” Skyline track coach Marc Hillestad said. “Being the competitor that he is, he popped it out there. The crowd erupted. He loved to be pushed and liked the challenge.”
He already had three productive and often spectacular football seasons, thus earning a full ride to the University of Washington and the No. 38 spot on MaxPreps/CBS recruiting expert Tom Lemming’s Top 100 list
Despite all the extra attention from defensive coordinators – and learning tendencies of new sophomore quarterback Max Browne – Williams responded with his finest season, hauling in 86 passes for 1,579 yards and 21 touchdowns for the 12-2 Spartans. On defense he added 89 tackles and four interceptions from his safety spot. He was an easy first-team All-American pick for MaxPreps.
Parade Magazine made him its National Player of the Year.
It finished off a remarkable four-year career that featured 242 catches for 4,076 yards and 56 TDs.
He played in four state title games, Taylor pointed out, and had more than 700 yards in receptions in those games. The competitive edge of Kasen showed again.
“He really put our team on his back,” Taylor said. “As a senior he had an 85-yard touchdown on a screen that was one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen. His career stats are unbelievable.”
Though football and track numbers drew the most attention, he was also All-KingCo Conference in basketball, leading the Spartans in scoring (12.3), rebounding (9.5) and 3-point shooting.
Basketball, he said, was Kasen’s first love.
"I started in third grade and originally thought that basketball was going to be my main sport," he said.
Though he’s excelled at all three, his greater strength, coaches say, is his humanity.
“He’s a better man than athlete,” Hillestad said. “He welcomes everybody. He was voted most inspirational. He gives kids rides home. He helps tutor kids.”
Said Taylor: “He’s competitive but so humble at the same time. Once I called him ‘Big Time' and he asked me not to do that.”
The moniker’s figure to be cemented over the next four years. He plans to play football and run track at Washington. His goals are to make the 2016 Olympic team and play in the NFL.
Asked about playing two sports in college, Kasen said: “I’m up for the challenge.”
He had loads of talented challengers for the award. Among those receiving votes: * Jacoby Brissett (Dwyer, Fla., football, basketball):
The 6-5, 225-pound Florida-bound quarterback is well known on the gridiron but he was arguably more dominant on the hardwood, leading Dwyer to a state 5A championship. He averaged 24 points in the playoffs. * Bubba Starling (Gardner-Edgerton, Kan., football, basketball, baseball):
The fifth overall pick in the Major League draft by the Royals, Starling rushed for 2,471 yards and 31 touchdowns as a quarterback in the fall. He’s signed a letter of intent to Nebraska. The 6-5 senior was also the basketball team’s leading scorer and a spectacular dunker. * Adolphus Washington (Taft-Cincinnati, Ohio, football, basketball):
The 6-6, 240-pound man child is the No. 57 football recruit nationally from the Class of 2012. He also led Taft to a state Division III title, averaged 19.1 points and 14.2 rebounds per game and was a MaxPreps Junior All-American. * Lukas Verzbicas (Sandburg-Orland Park, Ill., cross-country, track):
One of the greatest prep distance runners ever, Verzbicas won his second national cross-country championship in December, then became the fifth high school runner ever to break the magical 4-minute mile last month, going 3:59.71. * Gunnar Nixon (Santa Fe-Edmond, Okla., track and field):
Competing in an event tabbed “World’s Greatest Athlete,” Nixon shattered the national decathlon record with 8,035 points last week in Albuquerque, N.M. His marks in each event: 100 meters (10.89 seconds), 400 (49.66), 110 hurdles (14.16), 1500 (5:01.74), long jump (24-5.50), high jump (7-0.50), pole vault (14-11), shot put (49-11), discus (142-1) and javelin (175-5). FINAL VOTE
A panel of seven MaxPreps experts were asked to pick the nation's top five prep male athletes. Voting: 1st-place vote five points, second four points, third three points, fourth two points and fifth one point.
- Williams (5 first-place votes) 32 points
- Brissett (2) 28 points
- Starling 19 points
- Washington 10 points
- Verzbicas 7 points
- Dano Graves (Folsom football) 2 points
- Nixon 2 points
- Morgan McIntosh (Calvary Chapel wrestling) 2 points
- Dorial Green-Beckham (Hillcrest, Springfield, Mo., football, basketball, track) 2 points
- Anthony Hickey (Christian County, Ky., football, basketball) 1 pointSenior writer Dave Krider contributed to this report.