USA Basketball

Christyn Williams chats with InsideTennessee

Elite 2018 guard has Lady Vols among final six schools

Christyn Williams doesn’t know yet where she is going to college – and the 2018 guard wants to take her five official visits in the fall – but she does know what she wants in a school.

“What matters?” Williams said in a phone interview with InsideTennessee. “No question, I have to have close relationships with the assistant coaches, but the head coach makes all of the decisions, so I need to make sure I am real close with the head coach and have a great relationship.

“Is the program Christian-based? How will they play me? What style of play do they have? Most of all, I am going to follow my heart, pray about it and talk to my family about it.”

Williams is an elite guard in the Class of 2018 – her name appears at or near the top of every ranking service – and has had a who’s who of colleges recruiting her since she was in middle school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The 5-11 left-handed combo guard plays for Central Arkansas Christian School and has trimmed her college list to a final six: Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas and UCLA. Williams recently eliminated South Carolina and home-state Arkansas, both due to the resignation of Razorbacks Coach Jimmy Dykes, who had recruited her, and because she wants to leave home for college. The list had been at five, but Williams has now added Texas.

Online chatter has indicated that Williams will go to Connecticut – speculation fueled in part because one of her close friends, Lexi Gordon, a wing from Fort Worth, Texas, signed with the Huskies last November and will be a freshman this season. Williams has heard the chatter.

“It doesn’t annoy me, but it is kind of like, ‘Why do you say that?’ They say, ‘You are going to UConn’ instead of, ‘Where are you going,’ ” Williams said. “I am used to it now. At first it kind of annoyed me. But I am genuinely undecided. I don’t know where I am going because I haven’t visited all of my schools yet so I can’t really make a decision.”

Those visits will be planned for this fall with the exact dates to be determined.

“Summer is too busy to take visits, so I will take all of my officials in the fall, and I will commit before my high school season starts,” she said.

Williams expected to be busy on the summer basketball circuit – especially during the July events – for a new team as she shifted from Texas United to the Cy-Fair Shock. But Williams earned a slot on USA Basketball’s U19 team after trials were held May 18-21 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The U19 World Cup will be held July 22-30 in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy, so practice, travel and games abroad will fill the month now.

William was on the 2016 USA U17 World Championship Team, which won a bronze medal.

“It means the world, especially since my birthday was yesterday (Saturday)," Williams said in an interview with USA Basketball. "This is a great birthday present. Considering I’m the youngest player here, it’s a huge honor to be selected to this team. I have a second chance. That is great, because bronze hurt my heart."

A year from now, Williams, who just turned 17 years old on May 20, will be preparing to enroll in college.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Williams said. “But the ultimate goal has been college basketball. It’s more exciting than anything. But I am going to miss playing AAU with my friends.”

Williams doesn’t need the July showcase events for college coaches to evaluate her skills. All of the staffs on Williams’ final list know what she can do. The pressure of performing for college coaches is not a factor for Williams at this point.

“The whole point of AAU is to get exposure,” Williams said. “This past year, I have been playing ball, hanging out with my friends and having fun.”

Williams was the 2016 and 2017 Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year. As a high school junior, she averaged 26.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. She started seven games of the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship in Spain and averaged 11.9 points and 4.0 boards with nine assists and nine steals, connected on 10 three-pointers and went 15-15 from the line.

Williams has made unofficial visits to Baylor, Connecticut and Tennessee. Her primary contacts with the Lady Vols have been Coach Holly Warlick and Assistant Coach Jolette Law, who has been a regular presence on the road.

“I loved the coaching staffs, and the campuses are beautiful,” she said. “I had fun on my un-officials.”

Williams intends to make a trip to those three schools again in the fall and add UCLA, Notre Dame and now Texas to the travel itinerary. A recruit is allowed five official visits, so Williams will either trim her list by one or let an unofficial visit suffice.

“I’ve been recruited by these schools since eighth grade,” Williams said. “I have gotten to know all of the coaches, and I’ve seen three of the campuses. It’s going to come down to the little things. I want to take my officials to the other two schools before I even think about it.”

Williams will make the biggest decision of her young life by next November as she intends to ink her letter of intent during the early signing period.

So how does a teenager tune out all the chatter, especially on social media, and keep the process in perspective?

“I don’t let it get to me,” Williams said. “People ask me all the time, but it never lingers with me. It kind of goes through one ear and out the other. Because at the end of the day I am going to make the decision. Not my parents. Not my siblings. Of course, they have a little say so, but I am making it.”

Williams is not hesitant at all to leave home, and her final five schools occupy every corridor of the country – Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest and West Coast. She wants to pursue sports broadcasting after college.

“I love my state, but I want to get out, and my schools are all over the place,” she said. “I consider basketball a ticket out, and this is my opportunity.”

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