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Feb. 12, 2006

by Cathy Bongiovi-Stewart

While many basketball fans may have heard of Jawad Williams, the 6-9 forward who led the North Carolina men’s basketball team to the 2005 NCAA National Championship, more are noticing his little sister- Cavalier Siedah Williams, whose first name is Arabic for “fortunate”.

The third of Gail and Joeseph Williams’ four children, the junior grew up in a basketball family and has always made her own mark.

At Cleveland’s Regina High School. Williams was named to the McDonald’s All-American Top 100 list. She earned first-team All-City, All-State, and All-County honors en route to Division 3 state Player of the Year honors as a senior. She became just the second player in Ohio state history to help her team to four consecutive state championships.

Rated the nation’s No. 11 center and No. 42 player overall by All-Star Girls Report as a prep, Williams has continued to blossom at the University of Virginia. In 2004 she earned the team’s Rookie of the Year award. Last season, she was named Virginia’s Unsung Hero. Now as a junior, Williams is a team captain.

“It means a lot,” Williams said. “It means I need to step up and be a role model to all the other players on the team, not just the younger players but to the older players and people in the same year as me. Just taking on that responsibility, it lets me know that I am somebody, and I’m looked upon by somebody else, so I need to keep everything positive and be positive myself.”

Influenced by Jawad and her older sister Na’Sheema Hillmon who played for Vanderbilt, Williams relies upon that family support on and off the court.

“(Jawad)’s influenced (my career) a lot,” Williams shared. “Just watching him and his competitive nature. The advice he gives me every single day I talk to him. Because he’s been through so much in his college years, it helps me fight and not to give up so easily, because he didn’t give up so easily. He just encourages me to keep fighting.”

Williams has had to fight to survive. Recovering from two knee surgeries and enduring months of gruelling rehabilitation, Williams is back better than ever.

“I’ve been through a lot of pain,” Williams said.

This season the forward joined the starting line-up and has continued to flourish. Williams notched her first double-double of the season (second in her career) with 12 points and 10 rebounds against No. 25 NC State. After 21 games, she leads the team in scoring with 11.7 points while shooting a team-best .537 from the field.

“We need everything from her; we need a lot of scoring, a lot of rebounding, defense,” head coach Debbie Ryan said. “She has to find a way. We need everything.”

Before she graduates next year, Williams is still eyeing the prize.

“I think just making it as far as possible into the NCAA Tournament,” Williams said of her goals. “Everyone’s goal is to win the national championship. Unfortunately, not everyone can get to that point. I just want to make it as far as possible.”

Perhaps some brotherly advice would come in handy. Williams could not attend last year’s national championship, but she watched her brother’s final game on television. She talks to Jawad, who now plays for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, everyday. But despite not being there for his big moment, Williams gave her big brother advice this time around.

“I just told him, `you made it to where you want to be, now you just have to finish it out and give it your all. This is your last game’,” Williams shared. “I know we always tell players to play like it’s their last game, but that was his last game, and he gave it his all.”

With a younger sister- Adjoni- in her freshman year of high school, hopefully Williams will share her experiences and pass along advice, too.

“I know she feels pressure to be like me,” Williams said. “But I tell her, `You are your own person’.”

Siedah’s Favorites
Food: Chicken
Athlete: Jawad Williams, Allen Iverson
TV Show: Law & Order SVU
UVa Tradition: spring fling

I love to cook …
chicken and spaghetti.

Three words that best describe me are …
funny, fortunate, outgoing.

My dream profession is …
becoming a forensic anthropologist.

My advice to a young athlete is …
keep a strong work ethic and strive for the best.

The best thing about being a Cavalier is …
playing in the ACC.

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