2019 BASKETBALL INDUCTEE
Born and raised in Fresno, Adrian Williams had no shortage of options when it came time to decide where she wanted to play basketball in college.
Williams says she was recruited by “every top school except for Stanford. They were loaded.” Her top four schools, in no particular order, were Fresno State, USC, Purdue and Ohio State.
Adrian Williams actually began her high school career in Indiana, where she and her family lived for three years when her dad was transferred there for work. Living in the Midwest turned out to be a blessing for Williams, as it raised her profile as a nationwide recruit. The family moved back to the valley in time for her to play two years at Clovis West High School (and win two valley championships), where she graduated in 1995.
After much consideration, Adrian Williams chose to attend USC. She says she loved the campus and she was impressed by the tradition of the women’s basketball program, citing Trojan greats Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson. Adrian Williams would follow in their footsteps.
During her four-year career at USC, Adrian Williams became a member of the Trojans’ 1,000-point club. She was named all-Pac-10 in both her junior and her senior years. And the expectations she had for herself were so high she says she was “disappointed because (she) never won a championship.”
It is worth noting that Williams’ USC career was not without its challenges. She played for three coaches in her four years there. And she also played with a broken foot in 1997 and 1999, receiving injections before games during her entire senior year!
The WNBA did not exist when Adrian Williams was growing up in Fresno. However, the timing of its creation could not have been better. The league began play in 1997, just two years before Williams would graduate from USC. After her senior year, though, she had surgery and ended up playing professionally in France for one year. It was not until the following year, 2000, when Adrian Williams entered the WNBA Draft and became the 21st overall pick (second round) of the Phoenix Mercury.
Adrian Williams played eight seasons in the WNBA. In 2003, she was an all-star, averaging 9.8 ppg and 7.4 rpg. Williams says her all-star year “was validation of how (she) felt as a player.”
Williams played professional basketball for a total of ten years. She retired in 2008, at the age of 31. In addition to her time in the WNBA, she also made stops in Italy, Spain, South Korea and China. But, believe it or not, looking back on her career she says, “the most fun (she) had playing basketball was definitely in high school.”