Foe to Know: ASU's Andre Williamson

If you’re in one of the first few rows around a basket at the Smith Center on Saturday, you might want to watch your head.

Not only will the game feature North Carolina’s John Henson, who leads the ACC with 3.3 blocks per game, but also Appalachian State’s Andre Williamson, who leads the Southern Conference with 2.1 swats.

“Andre blocks shots like he’s spiking a volleyball -- he tries to throw it into the sixth row as hard as he possibly can,’’ Mountaineers coach Jason Capel said, laughing. “He has a knack for it.”

The knack, Williamson said, came from playing volleyball his senior season in high school, which was his mom’s idea of trying to enhance her son’s timing.

“It definitely helped,’’ the 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward from Dayton, Ohio, said.

So much so, Williamson enters Saturday’s game ranked fourth all-time on his school’s blocks list. It’s a tally he hopes to enhance because he knows it enhances his team’s chance of success.

“My main goal for our team is to help get us to the NCAA tournament,’’ said Williamson, who toured China as part of a three-week basketball trip with Athletes in Action over the summer. “… But I’d also like to get Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. That would mean a lot to me.”

So far, he’s on pace to be a factor in that race. Williamson is averaging 7.6 rebounds (third-best in the league) to go along with eight points. ASU enters Saturday’s matchup at 4-5, and the player said the keys for his team are to get the ball into the lane, take smart shots and play solid defense.

That defensive-mindedness, Capel said, sets a good example for a team that boasts four seniors but several newcomers, as well.

“Andre’s having a heck of a year so far. He’s a huge piece to what we’re doing and what we’re going to do in the future,’’ Capel said. “ … His defensive prowess is something that’s definitely an asset to our ballclub.”

Although there is one teensy thing the coach is trying to tweak: “I tell you what, I would love for Andre to block shots and keep them in play so we can possibly get it and have an extra possession.”

Until then, watch out if you’re sitting close to the court. Especially at UNC.

“There’s one on either side, because John Henson has the capability of doing the same thing,’’ Capel said, laughing.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.