Sports

Williams inks with Utah State

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Logan, Utah, is a long way from Federal Way. The city of 42,000 is nestled in the mountains of the Cache Valley in northern Utah and is a world-renowned destination for fly-fishing junkies.

It’s also where Federal Way High School senior Earnest “Pooh” Williams will be spending the next four years. Williams signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball at Utah State University starting next fall.

“It’s real different from Federal Way,” Williams said. “It’s real nice.”

The 6-foot-4 wing picked Utah State over schools like Montana, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Portland State, he said. Williams visited the Logan campus in September and was impressed with the family-oriented atmosphere and the recent success of the basketball program. He also visited Montana, where he was hosted by former Federal Way High School guard Virgil Matthews.

“I worked out with the guys at Utah State and they all got along real good,” he said. “They have a pretty good team and they are picked to finish second in the conference.”

Utah State is entering its first season in the Western Athletic Conference after playing 27 years in the Big West Conference. The Aggies finished 24-8 last year and advanced to the 64-team NCAA Tournament, where they lost to the Arizona Wildcats in the first round, 66-53. It was the fourth time in the last six years and the 16th time in the school’s history that the Aggies have participated in the NCAA Tournament.

In the first Associated Press Top-25 poll released Monday, Utah State was tabbed as the 46th-ranked team in the country. They are also picked to finish second behind Nevada in the WAC by both the coaches and media.

“It’s going to be fun playing to go to the (NCAA) Tournament every year,” Williams said. “I wanted to play against the best and the WAC is a good conference.”

As a junior, the left-handed Williams averaged 17 points a game for the South Puget Sound League South Division champion Federal Way Eagles, who fell one game short of qualifying for the Class 4A State Basketball Championships. Federal Way and the rest of the basketball teams in Washington kick off their seasons Monday with the first day of turnouts. The Eagles return several players from their championship team, including wings Terrell Smith and Dwayne Alo. The Eagles should battle the Curtis Vikings for the SPSL South title.

“We should be pretty good,” Williams said. “Hopefully we can make the state tournament. But we are just going to take it one game at a time.”

Williams made a name for himself during the summer. He played for the highly-regarded Friends of Hoop AAU team out of Seattle with players like University of Washington-commit Spencer Hawes and Jamelle McMillan.

“The summer really helped me a lot,” Williams said. “It got a lot of different schools to look at me.”

Williams is one of three players to make early commitments to the Aggies. The others were shooting guard Aaron England from Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah, and 6-6 small forward Brady Jardine from Twin Falls Senior High in Idaho.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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