The Alabama women’s basketball team is flooded with leaders, but one senior stands above the other five.
It’s fifth-year forward Ashley Williams, or as her teammates call her, ‘Mother Hen.’
There’s no denying what Williams has been able to accomplish in her Crimson Tide basketball career. She is a member of the exclusive 1,000-point club, ranks No. 10 all-time in rebounding, and has 12 career double-doubles. That’s all great, but where her teammates and coaches think she is undervalued is off the court.
Williams was named to the SEC academic honor roll in her last two seasons, and was also a finalist for the Paul W. Bryant Award for her character, contributions to society, professional achievement and service to fellowmen. She’s playing out her final season while finishing up her master’s degree. The accolades are not surprising to her teammates, because that’s who she is all the time.
“Well, everybody loves Ashley (Williams) to death,” senior guard Hannah Cook said. “She brings effort and energy every day to practice. She is the definition of a team leader, and a lot of us look up to her like a mother hen. She’s been here five years, but still, I’m sure my freshman year when I wasn’t here she was still a team leader.”
Due to taking a season off for medical reasons, Williams is the only player on the roster who has been with the team for five years. She’s also the only player that has been with coach Kristy Curry since she took over as head coach in 2013. The coach and senior have so much experience together that Curry said they could “write a book.”
“She is the most positive, and in everybody’s ear,” Curry said. “She is kind of like the mother hen. Even though we have six seniors, she’s the one that has been here five years, and they have only been here four. She takes everybody under her wing every day, and it’s by her effort and energy in all areas.”
For a young forward like freshman Ariyah Copeland, Williams is the perfect player to teach her the ropes. Copeland, the No. 13 rated post by HoopGurlz ESPNW coming out of high school, has a playing style similar to Williams. The two forwards are not overwhelmingly tall, but have a strong build that allows them to be great rebounders on both ends. Williams’ success has given the freshman a blueprint for what she can accomplish with a high motor.
“(Williams) is someone that I, in particular, look up to,” Copeland said. “She always has a ton of energy on the floor, and even in practice. She makes me want to be someone that has that much energy the game.”
As for the title of ‘Mother Hen,’ Williams said the nickname is a perfect fit.
“I would say it’s accurate,” Williams said. “Coach Curry has called me the grandma of the team before. I’m always here for my teammates, this is my fifth year I’ve been in this program. … They can come to me and ask me a question, or I can go to them and tell them ‘Hey, this is what you need to do.’”
Over the first two games, Williams has scored a combined 25 points and grabbed a total of 15 rebounds. The senior has career averages 11 points and six rebounds per game.
“She’s better than ever,” Curry said. “Physically, where her body is at, she’s in the best shape of her life condition-wise. She’s the most vocal. She is at an all-time high.”
Alabama vs. Jacksonville
When 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 16
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 2-0, Jacksonville 1-1
Radio: 100.1 FM