By Michael Kinney
One of the most surprising players so far during the Oklahoma City Thunder preseason has been the play of rookie Jaylin Williams. Besides his upbeat personality, the University of Arkansas alum also brings a diverse skill set to the floor.
In Oklahoma City’s 144-97 win over Maccabi Sunday, Williams tallied 14 points, four assists, 12 rebounds and missed only two shots the entire night.
As Williams prepares for his first season in the NBA, he took time to answer a few questions about his experiences so far.
Question: What are your impression so far having spent some time in Oklahoma?
Williams: It’s great. Everybody shows a lot of love. It’s similar to Arkansas, honestly. Everybody is super nice. People will hold the door open for you. I know it’s not a big thing, but people do stuff like that. Everybody is just super nice here. Like I tell all my family back in Arkansas, it’s the same as Arkansas, just a little bit more. That’s exactly what I tell them, and I like it here. I love it.”
Question: You have already gone out in the community, meeting a lot of fans. What’s that been like, and has that been like for you?
Jaylin Williams: I wouldn’t say I’m just going out there and doing stuff like that, but I’m not staying out of the way. Like I’m going out and going to the mall and doing things like that, and of course, if kids see me they want pictures and stuff like that. I try to remember I used to be in their position, and if I saw an NBA player I’d freak out, so I just always try to be super nice with them and be cool with them.”
Q: With the recent retirement of the No. 6 league-wide due to Bill Russell’s passing, you’re one of the last players to wear No. 6. What does it mean to you to carry that legacy?
Williams: It’s an honor. It’s an honor. When I was picking the number, it wasn’t that big of a number. I just asked my dad which number he thought was better. Now that there’s a great meaning behind it, we’re wearing it on our jersey, and it’s an honor honestly just being able to represent the number, and it’s really cool at the same time.”
Q: Obviously there will be confusion at times this season between you and fellow rookie Jalen Williams. How adamant are you two about your nicknames being used?
Williams: “Yes, for sure. It was like within the first hour or two of us getting here, like right after we got drafted we decided on what we were being called. Like it worked out perfectly. I got called J-Will by my family and friends and he got called Dub by his family and friends, so it just worked out. He was just talking about it like okay, he’s Dub, I’m J-Will, so it just makes it easy, and the team all got it down. Everybody on the team got it down, so we’re good right now.”
Q: How hard is it watching your other fellow rookie, Chet Holgren, have to sit out this season due to his injury?
Williams: “One thing I’ve learned about Chet since I’ve been around here and even a little bit before I knew him as a teammate, he’s going to work. He’s always been a guy that’s working. He’s always in the gym, weight room. Now that he’s on that scooter, he’s still rolling around in the gym and the weight room. He’s still there at all times with a smile on his face, being a cool teammate. We went to the museum and me and him rode back to — I took him back to his house because of course he can’t drive, and like we just talked the whole time. He’s a really great teammate, and Chet is a really great guy.”
The Thunder regular season begins Oct. 19 at Minnesota. The first home game at the Paycom Center is Sunday, Oct. 23 against the same Timberwolves squad.
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