Catonsville guard Shamika Williams drew a lot of attention last year when she led the Comets to an upset victory over Western at the Basketball Academy. She later scored 27 points in leading her team to the Baltimore County title, earning a spot on the All-Metro first team. This season, Williams, 17, is again the centerpiece of the Comets' unbeaten No. 9 team. The multitalented 5-foot-7 player averages 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.5 assists. A veteran of the Baltimore Cougars Amateur Athletic Union program, Williams signed early to play for UMBC. She plans to study social sciences and is interested in the therapy field. She also has a job as a waitress as the Charlestown retirement community.
How did you get started playing basketball?
I was about 3 when I first picked up a basketball. My aunt, Lafawn Williams, she played high school and college basketball. I entered my first rec league when I was 7 and I played up.
Did your parents or siblings play basketball?
The only person that really played was my aunt - and my dad [Eric Daniels]. He played [at Lansdowne], but he didn't take it as serious as I do.
Did he help you with your game when you were younger?
Oh, yeah. He's my stepdad, and he's been with me since I was 2. He showed me a lot of moves. I don't even consider him as my stepdad, he's my dad. He tries to make it to every game.
How has having that relationship with your dad made you a better player?
He's really the main reason I got started, because my mom didn't really know anything about basketball and the rec leagues. He's always the calm one at the game, telling me what I should do - talking to me, not yelling like everybody else. Most of my moves come from him. I never want to admit that, but I get most of my signature moves from him. He keeps me sane on the court, because I have a little temper problem sometimes.
When you were younger, did you guys play one-on-one?
Yeah. He roughed me up a little bit. I used to go down to the court and he used to come and play with me and a couple of my friends. He always had the trick shots and all the fancy crossover moves, so that's where I got it from.
Why do you think your team was so successful last season, winning the Baltimore County championship?
The chemistry of the team. Actually going into last year, I didn't think we were going to be as strong, because we had height issues, but I think it was the chemistry of the team. We all got really, really close and it showed on the court. It wasn't about the talent. It was about how much you tried and how much you wanted it.
Did you enjoy the Basketball Academy last season?
I think that's where all the team chemistry came from, because we all took a class there that was like a bonding class and ever since then we all consider each other as sisters. That was the day before we came out and beat Western, and you could see the chemistry and how everybody felt closer and we carried that into this year.
What do you like most about the academy?
We play teams that have somewhat more talent and more weapons than the teams in our division. You have to step it up. You're going to be tired, because you're playing on a college floor and it's just good experience if you want to take your career farther than high school.
How many schools recruited you before you opted for UMBC?
My coach said I was under-recruited, but I had at least 10 to 15 schools recruiting me. Most of them were far, but I'm not looking to go far, because I'm a big family person and I can't be far away from my family.
Why do you want to stay close?
My family is probably the biggest thing in my life besides basketball. We're a really close, tight family. I have a little brother [E.J.] and sister [Alyxandria]. My sister's 2 and my brother's 5, and they're like my life. Even though they get on my nerves a lot, spending the whole day without them, I'm like, "OK, I miss my brother and sister now."
Do they look up to you?
Yeah, my brother, he's picking up on sports a lot now. Just the other day, he asked me can he get on the bus with me and my teammates. I'm like, "Oh, you're too young." My sister, she's a little cheerleader. She wears her little cheerleading outfit to the games.