St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes girl’s basketball star Danielle Williams had to make a decision last Saturday and she just wasn’t sure what to do. On an official visit for track and field at the University of Maryland, Williams’ Saints also had a game against Sidwell Friends taking place almost simultaneously.
“It was just chaos,” said Williams, who was averaging more than 21 points per game heading into the Sidwell game. “I’m sitting there being like you gotta make a choice now. I made the choice right then and just decided to go.”
After saying a brief hello to one of the Maryland coaches, Williams and her mom ran to the car, sped home on the Beltway, picked up some clothes, and finally arrived at the St. Stephen’s gym.
Williams ended up getting there at halftime with her Saints down by double digits. And despite a valiant comeback effort the team lost, 54-38, but even worse, the whole experience only served as further proof to Williams that a difficult decision looms.
A star for the Saints in the 100- and 200-meter dashes already, Williams, a senior, has made a name for herself on the hardwood this season, averaging close to 20 points per game and establishing herself as one of the best players in not only Alexandria, but the entire Washington, D.C. area.
It hasn’t made life easy for the reserved Williams, who must weigh the possibility of having to give up either basketball or track once she departs for college somewhere next fall.
“Today I couldn’t even choose,” said Williams, who in addition to Maryland has received interest from Virginia, Florida, and NC State for track. “All through my high school career I couldn’t choose between basketball and track, so I’ve done both. And now it’s really setting on me that I’m going to have to choose.”
<b>IT MAY BE DISTRESSING</b> now, but Williams’s decision has been made difficult because of how well she has played for the 8-6 Saints, who take on Georgetown Day Friday night. Alongside junior guard Brianna Richardson, Williams has gone from being a solid high school player to a star thanks to an improved jump shot that now complements an already lightning quick first step to the basket.
And her coach thinks more people should be taking notice as she carries SSSAS through ISL play this year.
“I think this kid really can play, people just haven’t seen her,” said Saints coach Calvin Crenshaw. “Once people get the opportunity to see her, they’ll see there’s a diamond in the rough here.”
Against Sidwell, her presence was felt almost immediately, getting a steal and a subsequent lay-up on the Saints’ first possession of the second half. After attaining next to no rhythm before halftime, SSSAS then proceeded to go on a 12-1 run, cutting a 19-point deficit to just eight.
“I think just knowing that they had her there, the kids got more and more comfortable with what they wanted to do,” said Crenshaw of Williams, who finished with six points and four steals with basically no warm-up time before beginning the second half.
Added her partner in crime Richardson: “I’m more of a passer and when she’s not there, it’s like where do I go? When she got here, I was like ‘OK, we can pick this up now.’”
<b>THOSE WHO KNOW</b> her describe Williams as quiet and shy until she grows comfortable in a situation. Then her humor breaks through.
“Once she gets out of her shell, she’ll crack jokes all the time,” said Richardson who takes Spanish with Williams and also plays on the same AAU team.
Having scored more than 24 points five times this season, it appears the same transformation has taken place on the court.
But it’s outside the lines that has Williams worried these days. Since she’s a strong student, Williams is hoping to receive an academic scholarship, which would be the best-case scenario being unsure of what sport she would like to do.
Clearly talented enough, it appears the choice is once again hers to make.
“Everything about basketball I love,” she said. “I can’t stop playing.”