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Wildcats’ Williams adds to legacy this summer

Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Jada Williams of Blue Springs, right, drives to the hoop during an AAU game for the Phenoms in Des Moines, Iowa. Williams has averaged 15 points a game against tough competition in the previous four tournament in Iowa this summer after leading Blue Springs to a Class 5 state final four berth in the high school season.

Jada Williams ended her freshman basketball season at Blue Springs High School with a berth in the Class 5 state final four and all-state and Examiner Co-Player of the Year honors.

This summer she has continued to add to that already burgeoning legacy – though much of it has been in Iowa.

This week, Williams and her mother, Jill McIntyre, will pack their bags again to make their fifth trip to Des Moines, Iowa, where Williams’ 17-under Phenoms basketball team will play yet another AAU tournament.

Her team has placed second in each Iowa tourney, losing to the All Iowa Attack by four or fewer points in each game.

“You know me,” Williams said, “I’m all about winning and we have won a lot this summer. And I want to win every time I step out on the court, but I also want to improve so I can help our Blue Springs High School team have another successful season this year.”

It’s been quite an offseason for the 5-foot-8 point guard, who played a big role in the Wildcats making it to the Class 5 state semifinals, only to have the COVID-19 pandemic cancel the state championships.

She has already received several offers to play for NCAA Division I powers, such as Notre Dame, Baylor, Texas, Georgia and Louisville.

In an ESPN.com article titled “Which women’s basketball prospect could be the next Sabrina Ionescu?” Williams was compared to her role model, being called the next Skylar Diggins-Smith in the national story.

She also won an Honorary ESPY as the Missouri Girls High School Athlete of the Year, presented by Sports Radio 810 WHB. The winners were determined by an online vote.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’d asked all my friends to vote for me, but I didn’t know if I had any chance of winning. An honor like this, or when I was (The Examiner) Co-Player of the Year (sharing the award with fellow freshman Grace Slaughter of Grain Valley) will only make me work harder.”

She then added, “Those moments are special, just like sharing all the special moments this summer with mom. She’s my best traveling companion, my best buddy. We have such a great time together.”

McIntyre relishes the fact that they have been able to spend so much time together this summer.

“It’s very special to be able to travel with Jada,” McIntyre said. “We are creating memories that will last a lifetime. I will cherish the car rides, plane trips, deep conversations, laughs and special moments forever.”

Williams also has had a great time with sometime teammate, sometime opponent Grace Slaughter.

“We lost two or three girls to injuries at one of our tournaments, and Jada, who plays for the 17U Phenom team, came down and played a game with our team,” Slaughter said. “It was so much fun. She’s usually an opponent, and I love playing against her because she just brings out the best in me, but I love it even more when we are teammates. We got down early in that game and came back and won and it was a blast.”

Williams, who has averaged 15 points a game this summer after averaging 17.6 points for the Wildcats, chuckled when asked about playing with Slaughter.

“Oh, I love playing with Grace, she’s my girl,” Williams said. “They were missing some players so I got to play on her team and we killed it. Playing with her makes me better and playing against her makes me better. Whenever we’re on the court we’re working hard and having fun.”

Before the start of the 2019-20 prep season, they starred in the 2019 Jr. NBA Global Championship in Orlando, Florida, where their U.S. Central Region under-14 team went 7-0 and won the global championship by beating Canada 72-35 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Williams scored 11 points in that nationally televised victory.

“I like to feel like the bigger the game, the better I want to perform,” Williams said. “There is still so much going on with the pandemic, and we all hope we have basketball this winter, but after what happened last year, who knows?

“I just know when I’m on the court or traveling with my mom, I’m the happiest girl in the world.”

Jada Williams of Blue Springs, left, drives to the hoop during an AAU game for the Phenoms in Des Moines, Iowa. Williams has averaged 15 points a game against tough competition in the previous four tournament in Iowa this summer after leading Blue Springs to a Class 5 state final four berth in the high school season.