Jada Williams is one of the most celebrated and recognized freshmen in the nation.
And she’s getting recognition for it.
In an ESPN.com article titled “Which women's basketball prospect could be the next Sabrina Ionescu?” the all-state Blue Springs High School freshman point guard was compared to her high school and collegiate role model, being called the next Skylar Diggins-Smith in the article.
Williams played a big role in the Wildcats reaching the Class 5 state final four, only to have the COVID-19 pandemic prevent the team from making one last run at a state crown.
While she is a team player, first and foremost, some of her postseason recognition is taking a bit of the edge off the disappointing way her first high school campaign ended.
She shared The Examiner’s Player of the Year award with Grain Valley freshman and former AAU teammate Grace Slaughter. They teamed together to lead their team to a Jr. NBA world title last summer.
Williams averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.1 steals per game while being named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 all-state team.
Late last week she was caught off guard by a call from her mother, who informed her that she had been featured in the ESPN article that compared her to Diggins-Smith, the former Notre Dame star who is now playing for the Mercury Phoenix in the WNBA.
“I get this call from my mom and she asks me if I have seen what ESPN said about me,” Williams said. “She said, ‘ESPN is saying you might be the next Skylar Diggins-Smith,’ and I’m like, ‘No way!’”
The article, by Dan Olson, called Williams the next Diggins-Smith.
“Diggins-Smith grew up in South Bend, Ind., and being so close to Notre Dame's campus made it an easy transition for her to play for the Irish. She was a dominant lefty guard who consistently was able to get to the hoop.
“There is a lot of Diggins-Smith in Jada Williams, the seventh-ranked prospect in the Class of 2023. Williams finished her freshman season with an impressive stat line – 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.1 steals – and she already boasts more than 217,000 Instagram followers. Most importantly, her game stands out compared to the rest.
“A 5-foot-6 point guard for Blue Springs High School, Williams solidified herself among the top future prospects at last summer's Jr. NBA Global Championship, demonstrating how elusive she can be off the dribble, her quick release on her jumper and how confident she is as a leader on the floor. She has also shown flashes of Chennedy Carter with her scoring mindset and playmaking abilities.”
Diggins-Smith was drafted third overall by the Tulsa Shock in the 2013 WNBA Draft. In high school, she was the National Gatorade Player of the Year, the Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, and a McDonald's All-American. She was a three-time All-American at Notre Dame and has been a four-time WNBA All-Star before taking off the 2019 season to give birth to her son.
Williams, who has received just about any accolade a prep player could dream about, said this comparison caught her off guard.
“Skylar is my role model, I love to watch her play and I have learned so much from watching her play,” Williams said. “This really surprised me, caught me off guard.
“The season was so much fun, then it ended the way it did and we were all so disappointed. I’m never going to have the chance to play basketball again with my senior sisters on the team, but this is going to inspire me to become an even better player – and person.
“To be compared to someone you respect and look up the way I do Skylar is just amazing, and I want to keep living up to her standards. I am going to keep working hard because I want a new set of skills going into my sophomore season.”
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