Blue Springs' Williams gives early pledge to UCLA

By Bill Althaus

When asked how many Division I schools called, texted or sent recruitment letters over the past few years, Blue Springs High School sophomore Jada Williams just laughs.

"Oh my goodness, I don't have any idea," said Williams, who committed via her Instagram account Monday to play basketball at UCLA. Her announcement featured a slick video production that placed her standing next to the Pacific Ocean and on the UCLA campus.

Williams is the Bruins' first commit from the Class of 2023.

"This will make my life so much easier – and not so much high school-wise, but it will make it easier with AAU basketball, because we'd be at a tournament and there might be 100 college coaches there watching," she said. "Today, I made all my calls, thanked those who had an interest in me and hit the gym."

She is the No. 13 prospect in the Class of 2023. Other schools that were recruiting Williams included, according to ESPN, Arkansas, Baylor, Texas, Notre Dame and Missouri, where Grain Valley High School sophomore Grace Slaughter has committed.

Slaughter and Williams shared The Examiner's Player of the Year honor when they were freshmen.

Blue Springs sophomore guard Jada Williams (24), shown during a district tournament game against Grain Valley this year, announced her commitment Monday to play college basketball UCLA.

In her commitment video, Williams made a point to thank her grandfather and God, in helping her select UCLA.

"When I visited the UCLA campus, and met the staff and players, I knew that was where I was going to go to school," said the 5-foot-6 point guard, who averaged 19.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists this past season.

"So many players are pressured by their parents to pick a certain school, and my mom was thrilled that I selected UCLA. She told me it was my decision and it was. 

"And I made a promise to my (late) papa that I would select a school that would be the right fit on the court and off, help me build my character and my relationship with Jesus – and that school is UCLA."

She was impressed that church plays as big of a role in the life of a Bruins player as Xs, Os and jump shots.

"I have so much more I want to accomplish at Blue Springs High School," said Williams, who played a big role her freshman year as the Wildcats would have reached the final four, but it was canceled because of COVID 19. "I want to work hard, get stronger and better on the court, become a better leader and become the player that UCLA is expecting after I graduate in 2023."