Illinois basketball awaits Destiny

By Anthony Zilis

As it stands now, the Illinois women’s basketball team has a 20 percent chance of adding a dominant force to a frontcourt that already boasts All-Big Ten forward Jenna Smith.

If the Illini can close the deal, one might say they are destined for greatness.

Destiny Williams, a 6-foot-3-inch forward from Benton Harbor, Mich., was in Champaign for an official visit last weekend and has the Illini on her list of five schools she will consider attending in 2009. Her other options include Maryland, Georgia, Louisville and Western Michigan.

Williams is the No. 8-ranked senior on’s HoopGurlz, and the No. 1 power forward in her class. Williams’ head coach at Benton Harbor High School, Lou Harvey, thinks she will make a great player if the senior decides to sign a letter of intent to play with Illinois.

“Whoever she plays with, she’ll do well. She’s a great contributor,” Harvey said. “Coming into a situation like (Illinois’), she’ll help somebody until she’s the person you depend on.”

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Williams averaged 24.5 points, 13.9 rebounds, 4.2 blocks and 3.7 steals per game as a junior for Harvey’s team, and was named Michigan’s Class A player of the year, leading her team to a 17-2 record.

She put herself above the fray in the eyes of college scouts at the 2007 Nike Skills Regional Academy in Indianapolis.

While scouts don’t question her size, quickness and ability to play in the high and low posts, they do question her desire to be a great player.

Harvey denounced any worries about Williams’ intensity and work ethic.

“Whatever I’ll ask her to do, she’ll do it,” he said. “She improves on her skills every day.”

Harvey said Williams can move people around with her skills and size, something valuable to any college basketball program.

Teaming with Smith would create visions of a frontcourt combination that would rival that of Courtney and Ashley Paris, who led Oklahoma to a 77-67 victory over the Illini last season.

Harvey doesn’t think she’ll have a problem handling the high expectations.

“She’s a complete player that plays her position well for her team,” Harvey said.