Williams Is An ‘Irreplaceable’ Rebounding Machine

By Mason Kelley

Aminah Williams never planned on becoming a big-time rebounder. So, when Mike Neighbors made a prediction before the forward’s sophomore season, she was incredulous.

“You’re going to be one of the top three rebounders in our conference,” the Washington women’s basketball coach told his standout.

As she processed what Neighbors said, Williams shot him a look that said, “Say wha’?”

After spending her first season as a 6-foot wing playing on the perimeter, Williams wasn’t quite sure how she was going to fulfill her coach’s bold proclamation.

But she didn’t ask questions. She went to work. She averaged 10.4 rebounds per game, finishing the year with 356.

“She just embraced it,” Neighbors said.

Williams is the type of player who takes pride in doing the little things. She has never been motivated by statistics. So, while she didn’t feel like a natural rebounder, she simply focused her energy on attacking the glass.

“I’m just trying to get every ball,” Williams said. “Playing against bigger players, the advantage I have is my athleticism as well as my long arms. I’m just able to kind of get around and then move quickly to get the ball and get it to my teammates.”

Williams finished her junior season with 354 rebounds. With 834 in her career, she is only 169 behind Amber Hall (1995-99), the Huskies’ career leader.

Since Williams works for rebounds, Neighbors rewards her efforts as often as possible.

“I try to do anything I can to help her reach her goals,” he said. “I’ve put her back in the game before when she’s got nine so she can get 10. It’s important to her, and it’s important to our team. It’s a thankless job so, when you get a kid that’s willing to do it, you better make sure they’re taken care of.”

With Williams willing to do whatever it takes to help the Huskies, Neighbors made a second prediction last season.

“You’re going to be the best screener in the conference,” he said.

For the second time in as many years, Williams’ response was the same, a look that said, “Say wha’?”

Like going after rebounds, she did exactly what Neighbors asked.

“I’m never intimidated by the size of someone,” Williams said. “They have an advantage, but I do, too. If you want it bad enough, you do it.”

Williams has been so good at molding her game to fit what Washington needs, Neighbors switched things up this season.

He asked Williams to determine the direction of her final year in purple and gold.

“What do you want to be?” he asked.

Williams told her coach she wants to finish her career the way it started, doing the little things, handling the details that might not show up in the box score, but help the Huskies win.

“I’m just trying to help my team get to the NCAA tournament,” she said. “Whatever it takes.”

When she isn’t setting screens and hauling in rebounds, Williams enjoys dancing and spending time with her family. Her father, Guy, played at Washington State and in the NBA, so Williams’ love of the game is in many ways an extension of the connection to her family.

“If I’m not with the team, I’m with my family,” Williams said.

During a recent conversation with teammate Jazmine Davis, Williams talked about how quickly time passes in college. All of a sudden, they are seniors. They are now looked at as leaders.

“I remember coming in freshman year together and now we’re the leaders of the team,” Williams said. “We’re the only two seniors this year. It’s pretty cool, but it’s also a new experience.”

Williams prefers to lead by example. Her hard work in practice pushes her teammates. She has become such a valuable piece of the program Neighbors said she is “irreplaceable.”

“You can’t put a value on it,” he said. “She’s the difference between having a good team and a great team.”

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