Illini women’s basketball claims its Destiny

By Bret Greenberg

The Illini didn’t wait on their destiny, they went out and recruited it. After signing six players to official letters of intent Wednesday, No. 8 nationally ranked high school senior Destiny Williams stands out as one of the top recruits in Illinois basketball history.

“The sky’s the limit for Destiny Williams,” head coach Jolette Law said at a press conference Wednesday. “She can play inside or outside, and personally, I don’t think she has even scratched her surface yet. She can shoot the ball extremely well from three-point range. But the humbling thing about the kid is that she only wants to get better.”

Besides Illinois, the Benton Harbor, Mich., native was considering Maryland, Georgia, Ohio State, Rutgers, Duke, Louisville and North Carolina. She credits her final decision to the Illinois players, the school environment and Law’s impressive resume.

“Being the first lady of the Harlem Globetrotters really caught my eye about coach,” Williams said. “Also, 14 years at Rutgers and coming to Illinois last year without recruiting the players and getting to the Big Ten Championship game impressed me.”

It also didn’t hurt that she played pick-up games with Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American Jenna Smith.

“Smith is a great player,” Williams said. “She’s an All-American that plays strong and great in the post. It’s a great opportunity for me here. She is going to help me become a great player. She is also going to teach me to become a leader for the team.”

Smith was not at a loss for words for Williams either.

“She can elevate out of this world,” Smith said. “She can rebound like there’s no tomorrow. The ball is her life. She’s got a deep hunger and desire to play the game. I think we are going to improve each other’s game, and I am sure she will fit in quickly.”

At 6-foot-3, Williams refuses to put any of her natural talent to waste. With her senior season starting in December, she has set a few goals for her last year.

“There are two things I’m looking for: a National Championship and to break my high school’s point record,” she said. “I need about 200 to 300 points to break it.”

After averaging 24.5 points per game her junior year, she is on pace to capture that achievement in less than 13 games. But to accomplish her goals and prepare for college, Williams admits she needs to put in more work.

“There are a lot of things I can improve on before I get to college next year,” she said. “My ball handling needs to get better, my shot needs to get better and my defense needs to improve. I’m also always working on my conditioning.”

Williams’ tenacity in the gy stuck out to the coaching staff.

“Destiny is always in the gym looking for things she can do to get better,” Law said.

“She is constantly asking us questions and trying to be a sponge around us. I think she should continue to work on her outside game as well as fine-tune her ball handling. I will put this out there – she will be an Olympian.”

When asked about how the Illini would fare next season, Williams had a prediction of her own.

“My prediction is that we are going really, really far next year … at least to the Final Four. But I would love a National Championship.”