This season ArkansasRazorbacks.com will be running a weekly feature series highlighting a member of the 2012-13 team. This week the series focuses on senior Quistelle Williams.
With the departure of last season's seniors, the player teammates call 'Q' has had to do more than step into a starting role on the court. Quistelle Williams has shined in a starting role this season, and has grown into one of the teams most valuable players.
Williams came to Fayetteville after a strong high school career at Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The first ever player in program history to hail from the state of Michigan, Quistelle would have to wait before officially becoming a Razorback. Originally Williams was signed as part of Coach Collen's first recruiting class in 2008, but she took a year off between high school and college. After a year off, Arkansas was still at the top of her list, and she made the rare transition from the Great Lakes to the Ozarks.
"The coaching staff came to see me in Michigan," Williams explained. "There were a lot of schools coming at me, but Arkansas stayed with me. I decided to come here because the coaching staff showed they cared about me and the team was really family oriented."
Williams' game has come along throughout her Razorback career. She has steadily improved year-by-year, and this season has embraced a starting role from the opening game. She has already played more minutes this season than any other year, and is making the most of the opportunity.
"I've been just waiting for my time to shine," Williams said. "It's been in spurts since I came here. My sophomore year it was in the SEC Tournament. My junior year it was in SEC tournament and in NCAA Tournament. This year I've been there since the beginning of season. I've just done whatever team needs me to do."
Last season Arkansas advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Once they got there, it was Williams who carried the team to the verge of the Sweet Sixteen. In games against Dayton and Texas A&M, Williams led the squad in scoring, posting 15 points in a win over Dayton and scoring 14 in the loss to the Aggies.
"Those games in the NCAA Tournament gave me a lot of momentum," Williams said. "A lot of different teams count me as a problem now and that's good. I knew that I had to step up last year because my team wanted it really bad last year. I just wanted to play my heart out in the NCAA Tournament, especially because I was initially a part of last year's senior class, so I wanted it for them."
This season, Williams has been very productive on the defensive end and especially as a rebounder. She averages 7.2 rebounds per game, leading the Razorbacks, and good for 10th in the SEC. In her last game at Mississippi State, she set a career high with 14 rebounds, tied for the third highest mark in the conference this season.
"On defense it's natural to me, it's just basketball," Williams explained. "Women's basketball is 60-70% defense, because defense gives you momentum, and that just turns into offense. As far as rebounding, I take pride in that. That's what I was recruited for initially. The rest just came with it. I feel like I can out rebound anybody."
Named as one of this year's captains, Williams has become a team leader both on and off the floor. She has provided valuable veteran leadership while sharing her experiences with younger players.
"I became more of a vocal leader this year," Williams said. "I try to express my emotions more with my teammates. I've basically stepped up all around, and became the captain that coach made me."
Williams' play has been very steady for the Razorbacks this season. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed in the eyes of head coach Tom Collen.
"She's consistently scoring for us," Collen said. "She's going to find a way to score, that's who she is, and she's going to put the ball in the basket. She'll get rebounds. She's becoming one of our most consistent players, and we need her to keep that up. We knew someone would have to step in and replace Ashley Daniels. We were hoping she would step up after leading us in scoring in the NCAA tournament. Our belief was that 'Q' was ready, it's her time, she's a senior, and she's more than capable of doing it. So far, in terms of scoring and rebounding, she's stepped up in a big way."
In her final season as a Razorback, Williams is looking to leave behind a positive legacy in Fayetteville. 'Q' is hoping to finish off her senior year strong and build upon that success to continue a future career in basketball.
"I want to be remembered as a hard worker," Williams said. "That I was a good rebounder, all around good kid, hard player. I'm focused on winning, shutting teams down, and executing our defensive assignments. Now is the time to do it for me. I plan on playing more basketball. I feel like this year is going to determine what I do next. If I have a breakout season, I plan on trying to go to the draft or going overseas. I just want to continue playing basketball because I love it."