By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports
When Lumen Christi Boys Basketball Coach Rich Karasek saw Khari Willis practicing as a freshman, he knew he was watching a unique talent.
“When I saw him working out as a freshman, I knew he would be something special,” Karasek said.
And Willis, JTV Sports Boys Basketball Player of the Year, is just that – even though his coach loses sight of him on the court sometimes.
“There will be times when I physically can’t see him,” Karasek said. “Khari is one of the best anywhere at driving to the basket, and there are times when he’ll drive into the lane amongst all those big guys and he’ll just disappear. Then the ball goes in the basket or he passes to a teammate for an open shot and I’ll find him again.”
Willis, one of the best on-ball man-to-man defensive players in the state, is the engine that drives the Titan machine. This year he averaged 14 points, almost 8 assists, 5 rebounds and nearly 3 steals a game for a Titans team that finished 23-2 with back-to-back conference and district championships. Lumen Christi spent several weeks this year as the number one ranked team in Class B and got knocked out in the regional championship game – in overtime – after Willis fouled out in regulation.
“Khari is always working,” Karasek said. “He’s always working to improve some area of his game, whether it’s his shooting or his defense. He sets the pace for us and controls the flow of the game and I expect he’ll be even better next year for his senior season.”
The Jackson area has seen some outstanding boys basketball players roll through over the years, but there may not be a better one than Khari Willis, recently named to the Boys Class B All-State team.