It’s been a historic season for the Kentucky men’s soccer team, and tonight was another prime example. Junior JJ Williams was one of just three finalists for the highest honor in college soccer: the MAC Hermann Trophy. Unfortunately, the Wildcat came up just a little short, and the award was given to Andrew Gutman, a senior defender from Indiana University.
Williams, a 6-foot-3 forward, has played an integral role for Kentucky this season. In addition to leading the team to their first NCAA Elite-8 appearance in school history, he also now owns multiple all-time records for UK, including the single-season goals record (18) and the single-season points record (44). And while he wasn’t able to clinch the Hermann Trophy, his impressive numbers earned him plenty of other national praise: Williams is ranked third in the nation in both total goals and total points this season, but with all the excitement at these games, people even decide to bet on soccer matches which can be even done online.
Other national accomplishments include coming in at No. 2 in the country in game-winning goals (9) and No. 28 in assists (8). He was also named Conference USA’s Player of the Year and the conference’s 2018 Tournament Offensive MVP. Over the course of the season, he was also awarded National Player of the Week (announced the week of Sept. 10) and named a first team All-American.
— Kentucky Men’s Soccer (@UKMensSoccer) November 27, 2018
Even though Williams is just a junior, he’s projected to go in the top five in multiple Major League Soccer mock drafts. Rankings will likely change after the upcoming combine (see, soccer isn’t so different from American football!), but if he is taken as the No. 1 pick, he won’t have far to go. FC Cincinnati owns the top pick for this year’s draft. The MLS SuperDraft is set to take place January 11 in Chicago.
In addition to being a really talented soccer player, Williams also seems like a super nice guy. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for a “Hey Kentucky!” segment before the team’s Elite-8 matchup. Although the Cats came up short in the tournament against Maryland, Williams has nothing to hang his head about. It’s been a fantastic year for both Williams and the entire UK men’s soccer team.