This article appears in the late December/early January Georgia State Basketball Gameday Program.

As we approach the midpoint of the season, it is hard to argue that any player for the Panthers has made a bigger jump in playing time and production than sophomore Kane Williams. As a freshman, Williams averaged just over 10 minutes per game. This year, he has tripled that and seen a significant increase in every statistical category.

Q: Before we talk about this season, let’s talk about last year a little bit. Coming into college, what were some of the biggest challenges you thought that you would face?

A: I thought that scoring and defending were going to be the biggest adjustments for me. Just really adjusting to the game at the next level. It was definitely hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. The way it was made easier was by having great teammates and coaches.

Q: How important is it for a freshman to lean on upperclassmen to get better and understand that they went from being probably the best player on their high school team to now someone who has to learn and adjust?

A: In my opinion it is huge. I have some older brothers and I think that really helped too because I was always getting good and bad criticism from them. Our upperclassmen really helped a lot, especially getting adjusted to Coach Hunter and his style. The other big thing that they were able to help with was keeping my mind right – not getting too high or too low.

Q: What did you learn from how the end of the year played out, including the Sun Belt Conference Championship and the appearance in the NCAA Tournament?

A: Staying poised and always being ready because you never know when your time is coming. I came off the bench last year and I never knew if I was going to play a lot or a little so I always had to be ready to give maximum effort. I try to keep that in my mind even now whether starting or not.

Q: How was this summer different for you as compared to your first summer at Georgia State?

A: This summer was definitely easier because I knew what we were doing. I knew the schemes and now I’m trying to teach it to some of the younger guys so that we are all on the same page. This summer was still a learning experience but it was easier for sure.

Q: What has it meant for you to have an expanded role as a sophomore and to have Coach Hunter trust you bringing the ball up the court?

A: It means a lot because if you know Coach Hunter, he hates turnovers and will lose his mind if you turn it over too much (said with a smile on his face). His trust means a lot to me, but I also know that I need to keep his trust and get better.

Q: We know what the team goals (Sun Belt Championship and NCAA Tournament), but what are your individual goals for the rest of the season?

A: The biggest thing I want to do is continue to develop the trust of Coach Hunter, the assistant coaches, and my teammates. I also want to become more of a leader since I know we are going to have a lot of upperclassmen who are gone after this season. I don’t necessarily want to think too far in the future just yet as we have a lot of basketball to play this season, but it is definitely something I need to keep in the back of my mind. I want my voice to be something that my teammates listen to and respect.

Q: What do you think it takes to become a great leader?

A: I think it takes being more vocal but also leading with my actions and not just my words. I try to lead by example, hustle all the time and just play hard when given the opportunity. I also need to stay the course and accept criticism so that I can continue to get better.