Kamiko Williams graded high by Liberty

Laimbeer: Lady Vol is 'very patient'

Tennessee basketball players from left, Taber Spani,  Andraya Carter, Isabelle Harrison, Meighan Simmons,  Jasmine Jones, Kamiko Williams, Jasmine Phillips, Bashara Graves, Nia Moore, and Ariel Massengale attend the Volscars at the Knoxville Convention Center on  Monday, April 15, 2013. 

(Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee basketball players from left, Taber Spani, Andraya Carter, Isabelle Harrison, Meighan Simmons, Jasmine Jones, Kamiko Williams, Jasmine Phillips, Bashara Graves, Nia Moore, and Ariel Massengale attend the Volscars at the Knoxville Convention Center on Monday, April 15, 2013. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Kamiko Williams on finding out she had been drafted for the WNBA

Kamiko Williams’ eyes were not fixed on her basketball future.

After returning home from the Volscars on Monday night, the Tennessee senior buried her nose in a book instead and was doing homework. A phone call interrupted, imploring her to turn on the television.

The 5-foot-11 guard had been taken by the New York Liberty in the second round of the WNBA draft. Williams was the third pick of the round and the 15th selection overall. Thanks to more calls and text messages, Williams was a quick study on the turn of events. She even talked to first-year New York GM/Coach Bill Laimbeer.

“He seemed like a cool guy,” Williams said Tuesday at Pratt Pavilion. “There was a lot of laughter in that phone call. I think we’ll get along.”

Williams was one of five players selected by the Liberty. Laimbeer said that the organization got every player it targeted. He seemed most enamored with Williams’ tempo and court vision.

“Kamiko is a very patient player,” he said in a team release. “She sees the floor well and understands how to play basketball.”

Williams’ final season likely helped her draft stock considerably. Her career highs for points (18), rebounds (13), assists (6) and steals (6) all occurred during her senior season. Her 7.4 points per game this past season were nearly two points better than her career average (5.5). Her per-game rebounding average (4.2) also was better than her career average (2.9).

“She worked extremely hard and showed great maturity as a senior,” UT coach Holly Warlick said in a release, “and that effort helped lead to our team being successful and to her enjoying the best season of her career.”

After consulting with UT’s coaches and her father, Williams said that she has chosen former WNBA guard Ticha Penicheiro to represent her.

Williams was disappointed that fellow UT senior Taber Spani wasn’t drafted. There was no immediate word on Spani’s basketball future, but Williams said the 6-1 forward wants to continue playing.

“I know at the end of the day, she wants to do like missionary work and use basketball to give back,” Williams said of Spani. “But she’s a great player and I feel like she should be out there playing. So I hope somebody looks at her.”

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Comments » 21

vol4life1983 writes:

Congrats Miko this opportunity is a long time coming! So go represent and just do you and it will be good enough!!!!

madrigal writes:

We knew all that already, nice to see others have the same opinion. Good luck, Miko, see you on the TV!

UTFAN1993 writes:

An early look at 2013-14

http://espn.go.com/womens-college-bas...

tneagle writes:

Taber looks like she is really tanned.
I was surprised she was not drafted.

vol4life1983 writes:

I honestly think it's a shame that this article only has four comments and only two were pertaining to the article. If taber was drafted as well there would be more comments. Or even something negative there would be more.

BxVol writes:

Congratulations Kamiko, wishing you all the best!

Volinflan writes:

Unfortunately, for us Lady Vols addicts, the reply's and responses will be few and far between for the next several months. I'll be here and see all of you in the fall. Or we could start a recruiting fantasy recruiting league. Three of my "dream recruit" class right now is White, Middleton and Nared. Of course, everybody wants Wilson. I believe the Lady Vols can (and really need to) sign four next November.

And of course we will be carefully watching Kamiko'S progress in the WNBA.

butch31 writes:

I said Kamiko was going to the WNBA at the beginning of the season. I'm not sure why Coach Warlick was not starting her in the beginning of the season, or why Kamiko only played 9 minutes against UT-Chat! Hmmm...I hope the coaching staff learned from it...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to butch31:

I said Kamiko was going to the WNBA at the beginning of the season. I'm not sure why Coach Warlick was not starting her in the beginning of the season, or why Kamiko only played 9 minutes against UT-Chat! Hmmm...I hope the coaching staff learned from it...

I have seen some comments from the coaches to the effect that her conditioning hasn't always been up to their expectations at least. I think I also saw somewhere that she has asthma, which could be one reason why she had trouble attaining and maintaining a high level of conditioning. There was also some talk earlier in her career that her father had some pretty strong opinions about how she should play and how she should be used, so she might have felt torn between what he was telling her and what the coaches were telling her. As part of a military family, frequent moves often make father-daughter ties stronger than they might be otherwise.

Of course, I don't know any of this for sure, I'm just saying that there are often more issues involved in building a team and assigning roles than simply assuming a certain level of performance and plugging players into a system as if they were just interchangeable parts instead of complex human beings in complicated permutations of personnel, ideas, loyalties, and emotions.

johnlg00 writes:

PS: That is one FINE looking collection of young ladies at the top of the article. They are truly LADY Vols! What splendid representatives of the Vol Nation!

RLL59 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I have seen some comments from the coaches to the effect that her conditioning hasn't always been up to their expectations at least. I think I also saw somewhere that she has asthma, which could be one reason why she had trouble attaining and maintaining a high level of conditioning. There was also some talk earlier in her career that her father had some pretty strong opinions about how she should play and how she should be used, so she might have felt torn between what he was telling her and what the coaches were telling her. As part of a military family, frequent moves often make father-daughter ties stronger than they might be otherwise.

Of course, I don't know any of this for sure, I'm just saying that there are often more issues involved in building a team and assigning roles than simply assuming a certain level of performance and plugging players into a system as if they were just interchangeable parts instead of complex human beings in complicated permutations of personnel, ideas, loyalties, and emotions.

John, I think it's been clear, despite some likely unusual circumstances, that the young lady did not play as much as she nor the team needed her to play until midway through her senior year. The pro scouts recognized that, as did some opposing coaches based on their comments. No one will ever know the whole story, but the inability of the head coaches to effectively use her skills is simply a fact. It happens, and it can't be redone. At least it was corrected in time for her to have a chance at a pro career. I don't think anyone believes she suddenly, after 3 1/2 years, went from an average bench player to the 16th best senior in the nation.

Best wishes to her in the WNBA and in life. It's been a privilege and a pleasure watching her play for the Lady Vols.

vol4life1983 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Unfortunately, for us Lady Vols addicts, the reply's and responses will be few and far between for the next several months. I'll be here and see all of you in the fall. Or we could start a recruiting fantasy recruiting league. Three of my "dream recruit" class right now is White, Middleton and Nared. Of course, everybody wants Wilson. I believe the Lady Vols can (and really need to) sign four next November.

And of course we will be carefully watching Kamiko'S progress in the WNBA.

Anyone who do not have K. Mitchell on their wish list is crazy she's easily could be the number one player. I think she is being slighted because of her declines to US hoops. But I got a chance to see her play and I don't see any guard being better than her in this class. But I agree with white and nared. But Kelsey is a better point guard than middleton.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RLL59:

John, I think it's been clear, despite some likely unusual circumstances, that the young lady did not play as much as she nor the team needed her to play until midway through her senior year. The pro scouts recognized that, as did some opposing coaches based on their comments. No one will ever know the whole story, but the inability of the head coaches to effectively use her skills is simply a fact. It happens, and it can't be redone. At least it was corrected in time for her to have a chance at a pro career. I don't think anyone believes she suddenly, after 3 1/2 years, went from an average bench player to the 16th best senior in the nation.

Best wishes to her in the WNBA and in life. It's been a privilege and a pleasure watching her play for the Lady Vols.

I would only quibble with your statement that it is a "fact" that the coaches were unable--i.e., not competent enough--to get that performance out of her. Of course, the coaches are partly responsible for what the players actually do, but they are not the ONLY factor in that. No one ever doubted Kamiko's talent, but it takes more than mere talent to be an effective team player. And, yes, I agree that her GAME seemed to be highly team-oriented, at least during the times when she actually played enough for anybody to know what her game was like. Maybe that was the first time she showed that kind of ability, in all the situations--in games and in practice--that a player is accountable for, for a long enough time for them to trust her to continue to do it.

A whole host of considerations go into the decisions about which players in which roles the coaches think give the team the best chance to win. Since the coaches, by and large, have done pretty well at most of what THEY have had to do, some consideration must be given to the possibility that perhaps a particular player didn't do enough of what they at least thought she needed to do to fit into that equation.

Volinflan writes:

in response to vol4life1983:

Anyone who do not have K. Mitchell on their wish list is crazy she's easily could be the number one player. I think she is being slighted because of her declines to US hoops. But I got a chance to see her play and I don't see any guard being better than her in this class. But I agree with white and nared. But Kelsey is a better point guard than middleton.

For sure Kelsey Mitchell is probably on everyone's wish list (included mine) but since her freshman year at Tennessee she would have Massengale (senior), Carter (sophomore) and Jordan Reynolds (sophomore) already on the team. But then again, I don't know how much attention high school seniors pay to that sort of thing.

It's sort of like the thing with two very good point guards, Jordin Canada (#2) and Recee Caldwell (#6) committed to UCLA. Seems to me that they both won't sign with UCLA. Since Middleton is a "local" I thought she might want to stay in Tennessee.

I really don't know anything about such things, but it gives me something to think about for the next five months. I'd like to see some Tennessee commitments show up on the ole HoopGrulz list.

butch31 writes:

in response to RLL59:

John, I think it's been clear, despite some likely unusual circumstances, that the young lady did not play as much as she nor the team needed her to play until midway through her senior year. The pro scouts recognized that, as did some opposing coaches based on their comments. No one will ever know the whole story, but the inability of the head coaches to effectively use her skills is simply a fact. It happens, and it can't be redone. At least it was corrected in time for her to have a chance at a pro career. I don't think anyone believes she suddenly, after 3 1/2 years, went from an average bench player to the 16th best senior in the nation.

Best wishes to her in the WNBA and in life. It's been a privilege and a pleasure watching her play for the Lady Vols.

Thanx RLL59...I couldn't have said it better! :>)

vol4life1983 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

For sure Kelsey Mitchell is probably on everyone's wish list (included mine) but since her freshman year at Tennessee she would have Massengale (senior), Carter (sophomore) and Jordan Reynolds (sophomore) already on the team. But then again, I don't know how much attention high school seniors pay to that sort of thing.

It's sort of like the thing with two very good point guards, Jordin Canada (#2) and Recee Caldwell (#6) committed to UCLA. Seems to me that they both won't sign with UCLA. Since Middleton is a "local" I thought she might want to stay in Tennessee.

I really don't know anything about such things, but it gives me something to think about for the next five months. I'd like to see some Tennessee commitments show up on the ole HoopGrulz list.

I think it depend on the player because I really feel she can come in and take someone's starting spot. I think draya will eventually be our starting point guard and Reynolds backup at the 2 spot. I just like the fact that UT is now recruiting athletes instead of a specialist. If players look at who UT has then we would be in trouble because we are loaded next season if everyone get better and the freshmen come in and produce as expected. I just hope it works out. If I was on the staff I would only recruit three unless it's a cant miss recruit. The class of 2015 is loaded as well. 2 perimeter players and a post. If they recruit a specialist then it should be on the defensive side with offensive capabilities.

Volinflan writes:

in response to vol4life1983:

I think it depend on the player because I really feel she can come in and take someone's starting spot. I think draya will eventually be our starting point guard and Reynolds backup at the 2 spot. I just like the fact that UT is now recruiting athletes instead of a specialist. If players look at who UT has then we would be in trouble because we are loaded next season if everyone get better and the freshmen come in and produce as expected. I just hope it works out. If I was on the staff I would only recruit three unless it's a cant miss recruit. The class of 2015 is loaded as well. 2 perimeter players and a post. If they recruit a specialist then it should be on the defensive side with offensive capabilities.

I also believe that, by the end of next season, Andraya will be the point guard with the most minutes. She just plays good defense and distributes the ball well with a lot of energy. Of course we haven't seen Reynolds. She's "discussed" as a combo guard that can fill it up.

Everyone expects us to be loaded in the upcoming season and the same will be for the 2014-2015 season with four seniors, 3 juniors, four sophomores and whatever freshmen sign this November. It's the 2015-2016 season where the gap could be if they do not sign several (four?) girls this fall. Counting the freshmen coming in this fall there will only be seven on the team with experience for 2015-2016 season. Two or three good sophomores would be nice and of course there will be freshmen on that team. That of course is the situation with out those "killers" - injuries and transfers. Looks like we'll start next season with a roster of 12 (six "bigs" and six guards - good balance) four of which are freshmen. I'd gamble that, of that four, not all four will finish out their careers. Something always happens.

Finally, as you mentioned having such a senior team in 2014-2015 may have some of the girls not wanting to be part of a 15 person roster. Watching other teams (UCONN for example, with only one incoming freshman) seems there are seasons that you're so loaded it's hard to get the top players signed. Anyway, I'm still pulling for White, Middleton and Nared with a super player if possible. (Mitchell, Wison etc.) Guess well find out in November.

vol4life1983 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

I also believe that, by the end of next season, Andraya will be the point guard with the most minutes. She just plays good defense and distributes the ball well with a lot of energy. Of course we haven't seen Reynolds. She's "discussed" as a combo guard that can fill it up.

Everyone expects us to be loaded in the upcoming season and the same will be for the 2014-2015 season with four seniors, 3 juniors, four sophomores and whatever freshmen sign this November. It's the 2015-2016 season where the gap could be if they do not sign several (four?) girls this fall. Counting the freshmen coming in this fall there will only be seven on the team with experience for 2015-2016 season. Two or three good sophomores would be nice and of course there will be freshmen on that team. That of course is the situation with out those "killers" - injuries and transfers. Looks like we'll start next season with a roster of 12 (six "bigs" and six guards - good balance) four of which are freshmen. I'd gamble that, of that four, not all four will finish out their careers. Something always happens.

Finally, as you mentioned having such a senior team in 2014-2015 may have some of the girls not wanting to be part of a 15 person roster. Watching other teams (UCONN for example, with only one incoming freshman) seems there are seasons that you're so loaded it's hard to get the top players signed. Anyway, I'm still pulling for White, Middleton and Nared with a super player if possible. (Mitchell, Wison etc.) Guess well find out in November.

Like UConn though if we sign a blockbuster class next season we will be able to have a down year in recruiting. I don't think we have a shot at Wilson though with mercedes already there. Following Mitchell on twitter gives me reason to believe UT has a real shot at getting her. With graves and company being juniors I think we should only look at maybe the best player available for 14-15 recruiting class. Also I have seen jannah play on espn3 as a junior she is the real deal. Jones will be on the wing next season and not the post, I am expecting big things from her next season. I don't totally disagree with the three players you listed I just feel if we get Mitchell then we won't need alexis.

Volinflan writes:

in response to vol4life1983:

Like UConn though if we sign a blockbuster class next season we will be able to have a down year in recruiting. I don't think we have a shot at Wilson though with mercedes already there. Following Mitchell on twitter gives me reason to believe UT has a real shot at getting her. With graves and company being juniors I think we should only look at maybe the best player available for 14-15 recruiting class. Also I have seen jannah play on espn3 as a junior she is the real deal. Jones will be on the wing next season and not the post, I am expecting big things from her next season. I don't totally disagree with the three players you listed I just feel if we get Mitchell then we won't need alexis.

Wouldn't it be fun to know who the Lady Vol staff is really recruiting? I saw where A. Freeman had committed to Louisville. But from the article, UT was in attendance but not very serious in recruiting her. I was in corporate sales and when those big pieces of business came by you always took a swing at them. But you had to know the difference from "pie in the sky" stuff to what you had a good chance of bringing home. Or you went hungry. I think the same is true for recruiting and the staff has to know when they have a real chance of signing a star. I mean, about half of them list Tenn, UConn, Baylor, ND and Stanford as choices but they have to know if this is real of just BS.

One of the reason I listed Middleton is because they "offered her". If she accepts that offer and commits then Tennessee will stick to that. Probably they would also like to sign another guard so they would/could have a year of experience for the 2015-2016 season. And, you just can never have enough forwards. Besides J. White I don't know who they are recruiting.

So you think Jones will play on the wing next year? A 6'2" player that can dribble drive, shoot the short jumper and get rebounds could take us to the final four. We know she can play defense and has the short jumper. Maybe she'll spend a lot of time this summer dribbling.

vol4life1983 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Wouldn't it be fun to know who the Lady Vol staff is really recruiting? I saw where A. Freeman had committed to Louisville. But from the article, UT was in attendance but not very serious in recruiting her. I was in corporate sales and when those big pieces of business came by you always took a swing at them. But you had to know the difference from "pie in the sky" stuff to what you had a good chance of bringing home. Or you went hungry. I think the same is true for recruiting and the staff has to know when they have a real chance of signing a star. I mean, about half of them list Tenn, UConn, Baylor, ND and Stanford as choices but they have to know if this is real of just BS.

One of the reason I listed Middleton is because they "offered her". If she accepts that offer and commits then Tennessee will stick to that. Probably they would also like to sign another guard so they would/could have a year of experience for the 2015-2016 season. And, you just can never have enough forwards. Besides J. White I don't know who they are recruiting.

So you think Jones will play on the wing next year? A 6'2" player that can dribble drive, shoot the short jumper and get rebounds could take us to the final four. We know she can play defense and has the short jumper. Maybe she'll spend a lot of time this summer dribbling.

Yes J played wing some this season but just didn't have the tight handles to consistently play out there. I think Kyra will take her under her wings this summer. She reminds me of Kyra pre injuries and we all know how special of a player she could've been if it wasn't for injuries. And as pretty as jj shot is there is no reason she shouln't expand her range and do it consistently. I just feel she has the most upside of any player on the roster and if she maximize it then she will be special on both ends of the court. I think if everyone improve over the summer we will get a real shot at seeing them cut down nets. Jannah will be key as well cause before this injury this girl was a player who can flat out get buckets and that will be needed when simmons is having bad games due to nerves. I think alexis will be at Tennessee but Kelsey has shown a lot of interest with UT based on twitter conversations I have had with her on twitter but then again they all are teenagers so you just never know. I found a website last summer that gave great recruiting in site but I for got to save it to my homepage and for the life of me I can not find it now.

Volinflan writes:

in response to vol4life1983:

Yes J played wing some this season but just didn't have the tight handles to consistently play out there. I think Kyra will take her under her wings this summer. She reminds me of Kyra pre injuries and we all know how special of a player she could've been if it wasn't for injuries. And as pretty as jj shot is there is no reason she shouln't expand her range and do it consistently. I just feel she has the most upside of any player on the roster and if she maximize it then she will be special on both ends of the court. I think if everyone improve over the summer we will get a real shot at seeing them cut down nets. Jannah will be key as well cause before this injury this girl was a player who can flat out get buckets and that will be needed when simmons is having bad games due to nerves. I think alexis will be at Tennessee but Kelsey has shown a lot of interest with UT based on twitter conversations I have had with her on twitter but then again they all are teenagers so you just never know. I found a website last summer that gave great recruiting in site but I for got to save it to my homepage and for the life of me I can not find it now.

I have just been visiting the comments on the news about Pat Summitt's developments and I just can't hardly stand all the quibbling that goes on. I doubt if this tread will be revisited but it gives me something to talk about that is less controversial (of course all the "controversing" commentators are persons who rarely visit the Lady Vols side of GoVols). So let's just talk basketball. As Volforlife says JJ may be that jewel that occasionally shows up in recruiting classes. Add some range to her beautiful shot, and maybe a little improved dribbling ability and she will be scary good. Not many coaches are looking forward to playing against Harrison, Jones, Burdick and Graves. And, oh by the way, there is going to be a couple of more presences in there. Besides M. Russell let's not forget Nia Moore. From what I saw of her this year she has a lot of athletic ability but sometimes just didn't know what to do. Look forward to a year of teaching/coaching by the Lady Vol staff and expect a huge improvement. A few more pounds of muscle will give her the ability to bang it inside. This past year we just didn't have enough "inside bangers" to be able to play physical against some teams. One girl gets three fouls and we had to go into defensive mode.

You said "Jannah will be the key". For sure guard play will be the key. Simmons and Massengale are proven. But their backups are the totally unknown. Carter showed us what she could do at the beginning of last season. We just hope that shoulder comes all the way back. There is a lot of hype about Reynolds and Tucker but it's scary to have to count on a freshman. Some come in and sit on the bench for four years. Then again, how many years in a row has a freshman started the season for the Lady Vols. Seems like every year I think they have a "Pat" hand and am surprised by a freshman starting. (Simmons, Carter, Massengale). Ya just never know!

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