Ken­tucky stand­out Wil­liams se­lected No. 18 over­all by Crew in MLS Su­perDraft

Lexington Herald-Leader - - Sports - BY JARED PECK [email protected]­ald-leader.com

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

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