For the past four seasons, guard Courtney Williams has carried her team, taking USF to four postseason appearances, leaving bits and pieces of school records in her wake.
On Thursday night, Williams was drafted eighth overall in the WNBA draft to the Phoenix Mercury. A lifetime of work finally evolved into one of the best moments of her life.
“I had no idea where I might go, so it was very nerve-wracking,” Williams said. “I tried not to think about it too much. But those are big questions. What team wants me? Where will I live? Now I know the answers.”
Williams said the selection came as a bit of a surprise. She hadn’t talked with the Mercury – one of the original eight franchises in the WNBA – nearly at all prior to the draft.
Williams, a 5-foot-8 WBCA All-American in 2016, will have to adjust her game once in Phoenix. Rather than being the focal point shouldering the weight of running the offense, she will be a part of the supporting cast on a team led by one of the league’s best players.
“Diana Taurasi plays there,” Williams said. “It will be great to play with her and learn from her.
“I just want to go there, fit in and do my thing,” Williams said. “I have no idea what comes next, but I’m ready to play and ready to work.”
Using what she saw in games against national champion UConn, ESPN analyst Carolyn Peck, a former WNBA coach, has no doubt she is ready for the next level.
“Connecticut is the closest that you’re going to be able to measure how a player can perform in the WNBA without actually playing in the WNBA,” Peck said. “Because of her quickness and ability to elevate, I think this season she also demonstrated not only is she a scorer, but she has the ability to pass.”
It was a night 21 years in the making. Flanked by her parents, Michelle and Donald, as well as USF coach Jose Fernandez at the draft ceremony, the moment began to sink in.
“This was always a dream for me and now it has come true,” Williams said. “I’m very grateful to everyone in my hometown and everyone at USF who has been of part of this. I want to give them all something to be proud of.”