In only her fourth game as a first-year on the North Carolina women's basketball team, which was a 98-28 drubbing of South Carolina State, Kennedy Todd-Williams finished just one assist shy of the first triple-double in program history.
The Jacksonville, North Carolina, native, who UNC head coach Courtney Banghart dubbed the "Scottie Pippen of college basketball," nearly accomplished the feat in just 21 minutes of action against the Bulldogs.
"I like to share the ball," Todd-Williams said. "I'm a versatile player, so I like to be on the boards, get a bucket when I need to or find my teammates."
What would've been the second triple-double of her playing career — the first being a 22-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist outing as a high school senior in her first game back from a torn ACL — started off with a quick nine points from Todd-Williams in the opening frame to go with five assists in the second quarter.
By halftime, she carried 10 points, six boards and six assists into the break through only 13 minutes of playing time, en route to her final stat line of 14 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
"Oh, my gosh. I love Toddy. She's a beast," fellow first-year guard Deja Kelly, who racked up a team-high 16 points in the victory, said. "She brings a little bit of everything to this team, which is extremely helpful. If you need a rebound, she's got it. If you need a bucket, she's got it. If you need a stop, she's got it. So, yeah, Todd's gonna be a problem in the ACC."
And Kelly's point about looking ahead to conference play is right on the money.
As Banghart pointed out after the win, it's difficult for her team to actually celebrate Todd-Williams' performance as much as possible and utilize this victory as a learning experience when one team is so heavily favored over the other.
Add in the fact that this year's UNC team is allotting at least 12 minutes of playing time to five first-years, there is reason to be concerned about how such a young team will make the jump to a much more difficult ACC schedule by the time it plays Wake Forest on Thursday, Dec. 10. The group will need to rely on more performances like Todd-Williams' to make the best run possible in such a competitive league.
"(We're just trying to) stay grounded to our principles and come out stronger than the other team because we're about to face these ACC teams, and from the upperclassmen, they're saying it's no joke," Todd-Williams said. "So we just have to take every game by itself and play to our principles one game at a time."
Still, Todd-Williams' stellar night is a sign of the work she's put in and her potential to step up as a leader for the Tar Heels once their conference slate begins.
Banghart was quick to point out how Thursday night's showing from the first-year is just a representation of how much time the young guard spends in the gym and watching film.
"Anything good that happens to Kennedy Todd-Williams, the entire team's happy because she puts the time in, and she's just a great teammate," Banghart said. "I'm certainly glad she's a Tar Heel."
With a weekend matchup against UNC-Charlotte as the only remaining nonconference game to start this season, the Tar Heels will be looking to see if Todd-Williams can continue her hot streak to start their run of conference games off on the right foot following last year's late-season collapse.
"I just think our chemistry is definitely there, and I think we're ready," Kelly said.
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