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Dec. 10, 2003

Virginia welcomes three first-year players into its on-court family this season. Family influence has been a big part of their lives already. Now they’ll embark upon their collegiate careers as members of the Cavalier family.

Brenna McGuire, a 5-11 guard from Winchester, Mass., was a two-time Honorable Mention Street & Smith’s honoree. She was a four-year starter at point guard at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School.

“Both my brothers played and my grandpa played,” McGuire said. “So I ended up having a ball in my hands for my first sport.”

Growing up in a basketball family, McGuire was influenced by her father and grandfather, coaching legend Al McGuire.

“He had a lot of influence on me,” McGuire said of her grandfather, the Hall of Famer who coached at Marquette, guiding the team to its first NCAA national championship in 1977. “He took my brothers and I to the court all the time. He taught us everything that he taught his players, and told us that the most important thing is what you do off the court. He taught us a lot of great, inspiring things. I miss him.”

Siedah Williams, a 6-2 center from Cleveland, Ohio, was named to McDonald’s American Top 100. She earned Ohio state Player of the Year honors after helping Regina High School to four consecutive state championships. Also influenced by family, Williams is the second in her family to play for an ACC school.

“I first started playing basketball in seventh grade,” Williams said. “It pretty much runs in my family. My older sister Na’Sheema played for Vanderbilt. My older brother Jawad plays for North Carolina, so we’re trying to keep the tradition going.”

Williams credits her family for its influence on her basketball and academic careers.

“Ever since I was a child, my mother and father never stressed it on us, but if there was something we wanted to do, they were behind us the whole way,” Williams said.

Alisa Wulff, a 6-1 guard from Pickering, Ont., averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game for Pine Ridge Secondary School. She was also a member of the Canadian Junior National Team. Despite having two former collegiate athletes for parents, Wulff started playing basketball in her own backyard.

“I got started on my own with the basketball hoop over the garage,” Wulff said.

With their families miles away, the trio is adjusting to life on Grounds.

“Time management,” Wulff said is her biggest adjustment to college life. “Just trying to balance practice and school work and tutoring.”

“Academics,” Williams added. “The whole experience is different.”

“The up-tempo of basketball and also being alone,” McGuire shared. “Without parents, you have to manage everything by yourself. You have to grow up really quick. It’s been a really good learning experience.”

Growing up quickly on and off the court is helping these first-year players blossom. All three knew that Virginia was the place they wanted to play basketball and get their degrees.

“The family atmosphere, the coaching staff, and the team,” Williams said. “I felt this is somewhere that I can really be for the next four years of my life, and really feel like this is my second family.”

“Because when I came to UVa, I loved everything about it especially the coaching staff and the players,” said Canadian Wulff. “The players really brought me here. Just the history and the academics and the people just drove me here.”

“Virginia, for me, was a better fit,” McGuire said of her decision to attend UVa over the family tradition of attending Marquette. “I came here, and I loved the campus, I loved the team, I loved the coaches. Not to say that I didn’t love the coaches at Marquette, it’s just that I knew them already. This is a new experience for me, and I thought I should do my own thing and start at my own place.”

With their collegiate careers just underway, each Cavalier has already set goals for after graduation.

“I want to play professional basketball,” WIlliams said.

“I’d definitely like to play overseas or in the WNBA,” Wulff said. “I definitely want to pursue basketball. See how long my knees will take me. Hopefully I can coach when I’m done (playing).”

“I don’t know yet,” McGuire added.

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