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Williams is headed home

Sierra star signs with D-1 Jackson State

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Williams is headed home

Christian Williams inked with Jackson State Tuesday at Sierra High. FRONT ROW: Karl Mome, from left, stepfather Telma Middleton, Williams, mother Keisha Middleton, grandmother Virginia King, sister...

BRANDON PETERSEN/The Bulletin


POSTED May 6, 2009 1:45 a.m.
Christian Williams, Sierra’s all-time single-season scorer, signed a national letter of intent to join Tevester Anderson and the Jackson State Tigers Tuesday evening.

Jackson State, an NCAA Division I outfit and perennial championship contender in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, was just one of a handful of D-I suitors vying for Williams’ services after the point guard concluded what many considered the best two seasons ever played at Sierra High.

In the end though, Williams chose to follow his heart back to his home state of Mississippi where many friends and family members haven’t had the opportunity to see him play.

Williams’ mother, Keisha Middleton, stepfather, Telma Middleton, as well as his grandparents Virginia and Henry King all attended Jackson State, and all were on hand Tuesday night at Sierra High to celebrate the signing.

“It seems like just yesterday we met and starting training together,” Williams’ best friend Karl Mome said. “I’m so proud to see him going so far. I wish him the best. He’s a great person, a hard worker. When he wants something, he’s going to go get it.”

After transferring from Weston Ranch to Sierra following his freshman year, Williams made it his goal to earn a Division I basketball scholarship.

Not only did he lead Sierra to back-to-back 20-win seasons and consecutive postseason appearances, but Williams finished 12th in California in scoring his senior season (26.6 ppg), averaged seven rebounds, 4.3 assists, nearly two steals and shot 84 percent from the free throw line and 44 percent from beyond the arc.

“We’re definitely not going to be able to replace him,” Thomason said. “He’s the best player I’ve ever coached. When things broke down, you always had Christian to create his own shot or to create for somebody else.

“It’s going to be hard to let him go.”

But one team’s loss is another’s gain, and at Jackson State, Williams will have the opportunity to start his freshman season at point guard.

“I want to feel in control,” Williams said. “I want to make the big time decisions. I like when the game is in my hands.

“(Anderson) said it’s a big role for a freshman to come in and play right away, but I have a lot of upperclassmen who are going to help me during the season.”

Said Thomason:  “He’s a ‘1’ (point guard), a scoring ‘1’. He knows when to pass the ball and he has good instincts on the court. He’s very unselfish, so I think playing the point guard with his size will be beneficial for them.”

Jackson State is a mid-major, but there’s nothing middle-of-the-road about the Tigers’ scheduling.

Last season, Jackson State took on LSU, Texas A & M, Illinois, Arizona State and Kansas, and Williams says contests with North Carolina and Duke are on the docket his sophomore season.

“I talked to (UC Santa Barbara freshman guard) James (Nunnally) about when he played against North Carolina,” Williams said. “It’s no joke. He got dunked on by Tyler Hansbrough – I don’t think he wants too many people to know about that.”

Nunnally, a former Weston Ranch star, has mentored Williams from afar since moving on to the big-time college game. Besides the increased speed of the game, Nunnally advised Williams to hit the weight room, and to keep a mind on his academics.

“I’m excited and anxious, ready to get started,” Williams said. “They feel I have what it takes to go (to the NBA). It’s going to be a really good time.”

Just as Nunnally took Williams under his wing, so too does Williams plan to pass on his wisdom to good friend Kiwi Gardner of Manteca High.

“We’re still going to work out during the summer,” Williams said. “But I think he’s going to come down there and work out with me. We’re going to get him ready.”

Williams’ mother was excited that that her son chose to keep the family legacy alive at Jackson State, but, as is always the case, watching her son sign Tuesday was bittersweet.

“Any mom would be proud to have him for her son, so I’m just fortunate and blessed that God selected me to take that role,” Middleton said. “We’re very pleased that he decided to go Jackson State and continue the excellence with the Blue and White.”

Williams, who will head to school alongside a couple of cousins, is planning on studying either sports medicine of psychology.

“Christian is a humble child, so meek and mild,” Virginia King said. “I’m just praying that he continues to do well, stays in those books and puts God first.”
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