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Paxton’s Williams commits to Shorter

Sam Grubenhoff
sgrubenhoff@nwfdailynews.com
Northwest Florida Daily News

PAXTON — When last we heard from Zach Williams, the Daily News’ reigning Small Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, in mid April, his future was uncertain.

With no scholarships on the table, Paxton’s star 6-foot-4 forward said his playing days appeared numbered.

“I’m still a little confused about the future,” he said. “I still got a couple months left to decide what I want to do, but if basketball doesn’t work out, I plan to go to Northwest (Florida State College) and get an AA degree then see from there.”

Late Tuesday night, the murky outlook of his future became crystal clear, Williams announcing he had committed to the Shorter University basketball program in Rome, Georgia, with a graphic on his Twitter page.

“100% ready,” he said simply.

This past season, Bobcats coach Jeff Bradley said Williams provided Paxton a much-needed spark after starting just 6-4 one year removed from a trip to Lakeland and the Class 1A Final Four.

With Paxton at its lowest point, Williams showed his teammates how to raise themselves up.

“After our first couple of games we needed to have a talk in the locker room,” Williams told the Daily News in April. “I said, ‘It’s not gonna be easy going back, so we’re gonna have to put in the work we did last year.’”

Paxton lost just twice more the rest of the season — once to 6A Lincoln and once to Hawthorne, 70-58, in its second straight Final Four appearance — and it claimed a second straight District 1-1A title against Jay, 55-32; Williams posted a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals against the Royals, shooting 7-for-11 with three 3-pointers.

For the season, he averaged 11.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, three assists and one steal per night.