THE VITALS: The 5-foot-7 senior guard averaged 21.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game for McIntosh. She was the Region 4-AAAAA Player of the Year. The Samford commitment is also a Fayette County Player of the Year, and is a GACA Senior All-Star Game selection for 2015.
WHY WILLIAMS: In a class of super worthy candidates, Williams stood out quite simply because of her raw impact she had on her team. The Lady Chiefs went 18-13 this past season with a second-round appearance in the Class AAAAA state playoffs. She was the only senior amid a roster full of freshmen and sophomores with little to know varsity experience, and provided priceless leadership and experience to coach David Dowse’s squad.
OTHERS CONSIDERED: Michaelle Smith (Jonesboro), Kayla Smith (Fayette County), Jada Coggins (Whitewater), Tyeisha Juhan (Mount Zion).
Q&A WITH WILLIAMS:
SCBUZZ: What can you say to sum up these last four years at McIntosh?
WILLIAMS: “It’s been a remarkable season here at McIntosh. I can honestly say it’s been the best four years of my life. The camaraderie I have with all these girls, and the relationship I have with my coach, it’s just been best for me. I can honestly say my foundation for my basketball career is all traced back to here, my coaches, my teammates taught me to be the woman I am today and the player I am right now. I owe that to where I am here.”
SCBUZZ: What was it like being the lone senior on this team?
WILLIAMS: “It was definitely weird to go from freshman year, being the small fish in the pond and looking up to seniors to being the one everyone looked up to. I can honestly say that those seniors groomed me to prepare for this position. They groomed me because they knew I was gonna have to take on this role. It was surreal that I finally got to be that for my team. It was awesome. My teammates were so supportive of me and were never bitter or anything at all. That made it easy for me to lead them. There were hardships, and hard times and adversity. But I think it all was best thing for me to prepare me for college.”
SCBUZZ: How did you go about leading such a young, inexperienced squad this year?
WILLIAMS: “A lot of people had a lot of doubts about us coming into the season. We were very young. We’re not the biggest, not the strongest, not the fastest or most athletic. You know, we just had everything against us, but we never stopped working hard and competing. We knew it was going to be tough, but the thing I preached to them was you’ve gotta want to be here. You’ve gotta have the heart and listen to what coach says. McIntosh was built off of traditions and family values. Those things were passed on to me, and I reiterated a lot of what they said to me. But I also added to that in my own way.”
SCBUZZ: What would you say has been the highlight of the season?
WILLIAMS: “That’s really a hard question, because there were so many ups for this season. Really, the highlights were the downs. That’s what made us stronger. I’d definitely say the biggest highlight for us was the Drew game. When we defeated Drew, I mean, they have great players a great, great coach and all, but that win for us made us see how all the hard work paid off. We finally realized our potential, and it really fired us up and fueled us and gave us a passion that we hadn’t had all season.”
SCBUZZ: Now turn the light on yourself a bit. What’s been your personal highlight of the year?
WILLIAMS: “It has been that man right there (pointing to Coach Dowse). He’s the one that instilled all the values in me. He’s the one who taught me so much on and off the floor that made me the woman I am today. Our relationship from freshman year, you know when I was younger, I didn’t understand what the screaming was for or why are you yelling. But I understand now what all that was for. I can honestly say that coach is my second dad. He’s gonna be in it for life. He is the highlight of my career.”
SCBUZZ: Samford is where you will continue your college career. Why did Samford stand out for you?
WILLIAMS: “Probably my biggest other school was Wichita State, but I don’t really like to talk about the what ifs and the things that could’ve happened, because I took a lot of wrong turns, went through a lot of adversity and also a lot of success at the same time. But everything I went through that led me to Samford was a blessing. Samford is a great school. I’ll have great teammates, and I’m just not focused on the obstacles and what’s happened, but what is ahead of me.”
COACH DAVID DOWSE SAYS: “Cassidy saw double teams every night, yet she never backed down and consistently produced. I witnessed no other player this season who could’ve done what Cassidy did for us. She had the ball in her hand every single possession while also saddled with tremendous defensive responsibility. I’ve coached different sports, different levels, different genders at different schools for more than 20 years, and quite simply, Cassidy is the most amazing young person I have ever coached. Without Cassidy, we wouldn’t have won five games the entire season.”