Leah Williams of Midway signed to play basketball at the University of Mount Olive on Wednesday in the high school’s media center.
Williams was the Player of the Year in the East Central 2-A Conference as a senior and has been selected to play in the East-West All-Star game.
The Lady Raiders were 23-3 overall in 2017-18 and went 11-1 in league play.
Williams averaged 21.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.1 steals as a senior.
Mount Olive was 12-17 last season and went 10-10 in Conference Carolinas.
“It’s really an honor and a blessing,” Williams said Wednesday. “It just shows that hard work pays off. I’ve just always lived by hard work gets you where you want to be.”
Williams was troubled by some shin splint issues at the end of her senior season, but says the problem has gotten much better.
Williams plans to study Agriculture Business and Marketing, which she can apply to the family’s farming enterprise.
“We grow a lot of produce like watermelons, tomatoes, cantaloupes, cumcumbers — any kind of produce,” Williams said.
Her dad, Clint, said the curriculum at Mount Olive and the proximity of the university were favorable factors in Williams’ decision. She also had offers from Barton in Wilson and Christopher Newport in Newport News, Va.
The Williams family lives about 12 miles from the Midway campus, near the location of Clement school.
Williams has been playing basketball since she was 5 years-old.
“I encouraged her to begin with, pushed her a little bit,” said Clint Williams. “She especially took to basketball and volleyball. She pushed herself and was self-motivated after that.”
Leah Williams also has played volleyball and softball for the Raiders. She’s from a Midway family. He dad graduated in 1990 and her mother, Carol, graduated in 1993.
Clint Williams coached and taught at Clement, Midway Middle and Midway High before going full-time into farming. When he was at Midway Middle, he coached the boys and current Midway High principal Monty Strickland coached the girls. They assisted one another’s teams.
Williams has assisted Allen McLamb with the girls varsity at Midway.
“She’s going to be fine,” McLamb said at Williams’ signing. “With her determination and drive and her work ethic, she’ll be just fine. She’s got what it takes to play at the next level. If nothing else, her heart and mentality will put her where she needs to be.”
Williams is a significant graduation loss but J.J. Sankey returns after averaging 13.7 points and a team-high 4.5 steals as a junior.
“We’re going to change up a few things, but as a whole our defense won’t change a lot,” McLamb said. “We’re going to have to replace (Williams’) shooting part but if we can make the other girls get that drive she’s got, we’ll be fine.”
Williams’ boyfriend, former Midway quarterback Austin Raynor, checked out the signing ceremony via FaceTime on his cellphone. Raynor is in the football program at Wingate.