Truman hoops star Najee Williams reaches national dunk contest quarterfinals

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net

Truman High School senior Najee Williams is hoping to make two final four appearances this year.

His Patriots are one of the area favorites to make a deep run in the district playoffs, which begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Truman (in the new pandemic format where the higher seed is the host school).

The explosive forward, who can turn a game around with one of his gym-rattling dunks, also has the opportunity to make an appearance at the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis, courtesy of the American Family Dream Fearlessly Slam Dunk Contest.

Truman guard Najee Williams throws down one of his signature slam-dunks this season. The senior has advanced to the quarterfinals of a national dunk contest vote, with the winner going to the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis.

Williams learned this week he has reached the quarterfinals of the national contest, and is facing Luke Easley of Beth Haven High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Williams holds a 54 to 46 percent lead in the quarterfinal voting as of press time.

Voting goes through Tuesday. To cast a vote go to amfam.com/fanvote. There will be a slam dunk and boys and girls 3-point contest at halftime of the NCAA Tournament championship game.

“Najee is such a great representative of Truman High School and we’re all excited for him – both for our district, which starts at home against North Kansas City (Tuesday) – and for his chance to go to the NCAA Final Four,” Truman activities director Daniel Bieser said. “He’s the most explosive basketball player I’ve seen, and he’s also a great teammate and a fun kid to visit with off the court.”

Williams said he was unaware of the contest until he received an email asking for a highlight reel of his dunks,

Truman's Najee Williams throws down a dunk in a Phog Allen Invitational semifinal against Raytown Wednesday at William Chrisman High School. Williams scored 19 points and had a pair of thunderous dunks but the Patriots fell 62-48 to the Blue Jays.

“Someone got in touch with me through social media, so we sent them some dunk highlights, and now I’m in the quarterfinals,” Williams said, chuckling. “It’s all kind of like a dream, it’s so unreal.

“Right now, all I’m thinking about is our district game next week, and how special it would be to be a part of a Truman team that goes all the way to the final – and I think we can do it.

“We love each other like brothers and we play hard for each other. Man, the final four (in high school) and then NCAA Final Four. That big stage would really help me with recruiting and give me the opportunity to tell the world what a great team and coach and school we have.

“I’d love to do that, but first, I’ve got to get there.”

Truman coach Rod Briggs wishes more fans could have seen Williams perform this season.

“Najee is one of the most athletic players I have ever coached,” Briggs said. “With COVID we have not had as many fans in the stands and we have not really had a student section. If there were, I am pretty certain the crowd would really be excited. His dunks certainly fire up our team.”