Thursday, January 10, 2019

Leadership lived: Springfield native becomes a leader on the court in his hometown

As a star basketball player at Springfield’s Lanphier High School, Aundrae Williams knew he wanted to continue his career in his hometown following graduation.

Williams says when University of Illinois Springfield Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Walker approached him with an offer to play for the Prairie Stars he knew it was the right fit.

“I kind of already had it in the back of my head knowing I was going to come here,” he said “Just to have the opportunity to play for my hometown, have family members be able to come here and see me play when they can, it was just really and opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

As a sophomore, Williams has become an important part of the Prairie Stars leadership on the court as a point guard directing the team’s offense.

“When you’re a point guard, you’ve pretty much got to be the coach on the court for those guys and it comes with a lot of learning,” he said. “Your IQ of the game has to be at a certain level, so that you know what play you need to call, who needs to get the ball into certain situations and once you start learning that stuff, I think the game doesn’t slow down physically, it slows down mentally. Once you learn that, everything else just opens up for you really.”

Williams, who is majoring in communication, recently had the opportunity to represent UIS at a national three day NCAA Inclusion Forum in Indianapolis. He got a chance to meet other student-athletes from around the country and learn important lessons about leadership.

“It just kind of showed me that athletes have so much more power than they realize and they’re leaders,” he said. “They may not always play all of the time, but people always seem to look up to athletes, so we’ve got to use that power for the right things.”

Following graduation from UIS, Williams hopes to continue his basketball career. He’s proud of the UIS Athletics program, which he says is growing.

“I feel (that UIS is) one of the best universities in the country and I feel like, as far as athletics, we’re on the rise,” he said. “People are starting to realize that UIS is a team that needs to be recognized when it comes to best teams in the GLVC.”

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