Kentucky standout Williams selected No. 18 overall by Crew in MLS SuperDraft
JJ Williams, the University of Kentucky soccer standout whose breakout junior season helped propel the Cats to their deepest postseason run in program history in 2018, was selected in the first round, 18th overall by the Columbus Crew, during the Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Friday.
“I really can’t explain what it’s like being up here, having my dreams come true,” Williams said on the SuperDraft podium after his name was announced. “To all the young kids out there, to all of those who just see a big kid from Alabama, never settle for anything less than your dreams . ...
“I’m extremely thankful to the Columbus Crew. I promise you won’t regret this. Thank you and let’s get to work.”
In the instant analysis of the pick on MLS.com, Taylor Twellman, an ESPN commentator and former U.S. international player, likened Williams to Crew forward Gyasi Zardes, the team’s leading scorer.
“Tell me who this sounds like, ‘he has soccer in him, but he’s very raw ... it’s Gyasi Zardes,” Twellman said. “Literally, you just got the understudy to Gyasi Zardes.”
Williams, a 6-foot-4 forward from Montgomery, Ala., scored 18 goals, third most in the nation, including nine game-winners for UK, who earned a No. 3 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, its highest seed ever. Kentucky reached the Elite Eight where it lost to eventual national