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Now back on campus, Louisville’s Williamson understands importance of following virus protocols

By Kenny Klein
University of Louisville

University of Louisville forward Samuell Williamson is glad to be back on campus with his teammates, but he understands that everyone needs to continue to follow proper protocols and be cautious in this pandemic environment.

“It’s (the virus) definitely something that’s always in the back of our heads,” said Williamson. “When we’re just around or we go get something to eat. This is something that we have to be careful of. It’s just been a new way of life the last three months and we can’t become careless toward the virus. Coach (Chris) Mack was saying that our age group is one of the age groups that’s trending up right now, so we’ve just got to be careful and continue to social distance.”

Williamson was among the student-athletes which returned to campus on June 1 in the first phase for the Cardinals, and began voluntary workouts on June 8 after testing and following protocols in place. UofL athletes in the second phase are also back on campus now.

Samuell Williamson

“When I was at home, I made sure to be ultra-careful,” said Williamson. “I didn’t go anywhere without wearing a mask. And it is definitely something that I took serious from day one as soon as the ACC tournament got canceled. When guys like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert tested positive I think it became real for everybody. At that point, I was like, OK, this is something serious and something we all need to take seriously.

“We definitely have to be smart with our social lives and who we are around away from the dorm and away from the court.”

Since returning to campus, Williamson has made the most of his opportunity to participate in voluntary workouts and spend time with his teammates.

“Everything’s been so different,” said Williamson. “We’re just trying to make the most out of a situation and continue to get better every day with the limited amount of time available that we have. I feel like I’m doing a great job, improving every single day. I try to make the most out of every situation. Obviously this is something that nobody wanted and this is a terrible situation. Most athletes don’t have a whole lot of resources but I feel like this is a time to kind of take my game to another level. Some guys may use this time as an excuse. I just try to use this time to get ahead of people.”

Honored on the 2019-20 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Team as a freshman, Williamson scored in 26 of 31 games as a top reserve at forward for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-7 forward from Rockwall, Texas, scored five or more points in 14 games as a freshman, including eight of the last 14. He is one of just 14 players in Louisville history to score as many as 13 points in a freshman career debut, tying for 12th on that list with 13 off the bench at Miami in the season opener.

Samuell Williamson scored in 26 of 31 games as a top reserve at forward for the Cardinals. (UofL photo)

Williamson was efficient off the bench against Clemson on Jan. 25, shooting 5-of-6 overall, making his lone 3-point attempt and sinking all three of his free throws. His 14 points were his highest total in an ACC game and was one shy of his season-high set against Indiana State in November.

Two graduate transfers that have joined the Cardinal roster for their final collegiate season this year in Carlik Jones and Charles Minlend have impressed Williamson.

“I think the main thing that these guys are going to bring is experience” said Williamson. “Charles came a little bit later than Carlik did. I think I played pickup with him twice so far and you can just tell he’s an experienced, smart player on the court who makes a lot of like savvy plays. Carlik is really skilled, can shoot the ball and can facilitate. They’re going to bring a lot to this team, but definitely, definitely veteran leadership and experience are probably the two biggest things they’re going to bring.”

Williamson is glad also to be back on campus with his teammates to share their feelings with one another during a time with social issues at the forefront.

“Going three months without everybody, I definitely missed my teammates,” said Williamson. “That feeling was mutual between all of us. On the first day we got back on campus, we had a team meeting just to talk about everything that was going on in the world, not coronavirus, but social injustice and stuff like that. We talked for two hours and we all just kind of let out our emotions.

“Whatever feelings we had, we just share them with each other and talk about things we could do as a generation to progress everything and, and just make everything better for our kids and grandchildren I think we had a great discussion about everything.”

Prior to his freshman year at UofL, Williams earned McDonald’s All-America honors while posting impressive figures in high school. He averaged 25 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game as a senior in helping Rockwall High School (30-6) reach the regional semifinals and achieve a No. 8 final ranking in the regular-season Class 6A state poll.

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