THOMASVILLE -- Carrington Williams could have easily went down as another 'what if' high school basketball player.

The senior came through MacIntyre Park Middle School as one of Thomasville's most promising eighth-grade basketball players. But he shocked Thomasville head coach Tyrone Kellogg when he decided not to try out for the team once he got to high school.

"I was too lazy to get a physical as a ninth grader," Williams admits. "In 10th grade I was ineligible, academically. I could've come back at the end of the year but I decided not to."

But Williams never gave up on playing basketball and decided to try out for the team as a junior. He made the team but was stuck behind senior Antoine Garland and didn't see much action.

The decision to play paid off this season, however, as Williams has taken over the leadership role and has arguably been the team's most consistent player.

"Carrington was one of the biggest disappointments when he didn't play (coming out of middle school)," Kellogg said. "He was one of the most talented eighth graders, and him not playing his first two years really stunted his growth. But he has worked hard and has come a long way this year."

Williams earned the starting point guard duties and has responded by averaging 15 points per game through the first 18 games. Even with four first-year starters on the team, he has helped lead the Bulldogs to a respectable 9-9 record.

"I felt like, 'this is my senior year, I'm not going to sit'," Williams said. "We have some great young players, some of them will be a lot better than me by the time they are seniors. I've looked over my shoulder a couple times, but I've been busting my butt just like the rest of the guys."

"Not being a starter last year kind of put him in the same boat as the younger players," Kellogg said. "But being a senior, he had to grow up a lot faster and that has helped him do bigger and better things. Carrington is a strong-willed young man. He has done a good job staying with the young guys, but still separating himself and saying, 'this is my team.' In our system, the seniors always run the team."

Being the only senior, Williams didn't have any choice in whether or not he would be the leader. It was his by default. But being the lone senior leader on a team, which features four juniors and the rest sophomores and freshmen, is something he has adjusted too.

"It's still different," he said. "I don't have the people I grew up with on the team with me. Some of the younger guys I knew before, some of them I know now. But we've become good friends. I like them all, we're like brothers."

He has been happy with how the team has played but believes it is better than its .500 record shows. Several of its losses have been in games which have gone down to the wire, and Williams expects the team to turn some of those close losses into wins by the end of the season.

"It's been fun, but it's been hard too," Williams said. "9-9 is all right, but I think we could be way better. We are still learning to come together and we've messed up a little bit. Everybody just has to do their part.

"Definitely, we want to go into the playoffs and win a championship. That's what you play for, to win championships. If I can win a championship with these guys it will be great," he added.

Even if the Bulldogs don't win a championship, Williams has put himself in a position to earn a scholarship at the collegiate level. He has continued to raise his grades and is scheduled to graduate in the spring.

"I think that's a good thing about being a part of the program," Kellogg said. "We stress academics. Academics are why you're in school. Our team has an 84.9 percent grade point average. Carrington got the chance to be around kids who value education and it has paid off."

Williams doesn't know where he will attend college next year but says wherever he goes, he's going to play basketball.

"I may start off at a two-year school," he said. "Hopefully, I will impress somebody and transfer to a four-year school."

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