By Dan Lovi
Signal Staff Writer
Standing 7 feet tall and weighing 250 pounds, it made sense for West Ranch alumnus Ryne Williams to pursue a basketball career.
While baseball was his first love, Williams quickly grew to love the game of basketball and gravitated towards the sport as he continued to grow in stature.
Some of his fondest memories consist of going to Los Angeles Lakers games with his dad when he was a kid.
“Sports has always been around. My dad is a big sports guy and had Lakers season tickets,” Williams said. “It’s always been a big part of my life and a key part to me and my dad bonding. My whole family as a whole bonding.”
Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, Williams moved to Castaic with his family before his first birthday. He grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley, and although he doesn’t make the drive back home as often as he’d like, he still considers the SCV his home.
Afterall, it’s hard to travel in your free time when you have very little free time. Williams is a fifth-year senior on the San Francisco State basketball team who also interns at 95.7 The Game, a sports radio station in San Francisco, in addition to on-campus job.
He also hosts his own radio show on the campus radio station KSFS called “LA to the Bay.” Not to mention he works tirelessly at his academics. He was named to the 2017-18 CCAA Winter All-Academic Team last season. and will look to earn that honor again this year. Williams is also proud of a recent honor bestowed upon him by the squad — captain of the basketball team.
Not bad for someone who was hardly recruited after nearly averaging a double-double in his senior season at West Ranch.
“Out of Santa Clarita, I wasn’t recruited highly. I ended up getting a chance here at San Francisco State and I jumped on it,” Williams said. “I was basically a walk-on (meaning he initially wasn’t offered a scholarship), and the coach told me to work my way up to a scholarship. It took me three years, but I worked my way up and finally got on scholarship. I’ve been grinding every year, chipping away at it. Now this year, I’m going to be team captain.”
The grinding mentality seems to be ingrained in Williams’ DNA, as he had to overcome a series of road bumps dating back to his freshman year in high school.
Williams originally attended Bishop Alemany, a private school in Mission Hills known for its athletic prowess. It was his belief he’d have the opportunity to grow and develop as a player there, but he hardly even got a chance to see the court.
On the verge of quitting the game he loved, Williams and his family decided it was best for him to transfer to West Ranch and give it one more shot.
It was definitely the right move, as Williams became an integral part of the Wildcats basketball team, and able to move on in his basketball career.
Now, he has one more hurdle to jump. After graduation, Williams wants to play professional ball.
“To come from where I’ve come from to where I was almost quitting basketball in high school as a sophomore to transferring to West Ranch — and all of a sudden I’m in college and now I’m looking at playing pro,” Williams said. “It’s crazy to think that. It’s a dream for me.”
For now, the soon to be 22-year-old is focused on the task at hand, helping his team get better everyday. He’s expanded his shooting range as the game is evolving to a more spread out style of play. He shot 38 percent from beyond the arc last season and 40 percent the season prior.
While his shooting has vastly improved so has his postgame, defense and rebounding. As a die-hard Lakers fan, Williams grew up a fan of Shaquille O’Neal, but he says his game more closely resembles another former Lakers champion, Pau Gasol.
“My favorite Laker looking back was Pau Gasol. That soft touch around the basket, good-back-to-the-basket game, the fire that he has and he’s got the jumper,” Williams said. “He’s one of those guys I watch highlights on, watch film to put it side-by-side with my game.”
In addition to his love of basketball and radio, Williams has one more love: pancakes.
While he said the best pancakes to get both in the SCV and San Francisco are at IHOP, and the chili browns at the Way Station Coffee Shop in Newhall are “a classic.”
He also said he found the perfect recipe for homemade pancakes.
“I tried like 10 different pancake mixes and I finally found the one which is just perfect. Hungry Jack pancake mix,” he said laughing. “You have to get the buttermilk ones and instead of water you have to do it with milk. I also put a little cinnamon in my pancakes too. It’s been a long process.”
With his last season about to get underway, Williams has the right recipe for success.