STORRS - Christyn Williams could have taken the weekend off after playing a Friday night game with her Central Arkansas Christian girls basketball team last Jan. 13.
But instead she was up early the next morning and took the roughly five-hour ride from her Little Rock, Arkansas, home to Dallas to watch the University of Connecticut beat SMU for its record-setting 91st consecutive win.
Now Williams - a 5-foot-11 senior guard and the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 according to ESPNHoopgurlz - is hoping to make history at UConn.
Williams announced her decision to attend UConn and signed a letter of intent with the Huskies at her school Friday. Her finalists were UConn and South Carolina.
“I have goals I want to accomplish. I feel UConn is the best place to achieve those goals,” Williams said in an ESPN interview.
It is the fifth time in eight years that the Huskies have landed the top-ranked recruit.
UConn will have three No. 1s on next year’s team with Katie Lou Samuelson (2015), Megan Walker (2017), and Williams.
“We talked a lot because we were in the same position and I knew what it was like,” Walker said Friday after UConn wrapped up its practice at the Werth Champions Center. “There is a lot of pressure and you have to sit back and think about your future goals and what you want in life and what school is best to help you reach them.”
Williams made an unofficial visit to UConn in January, 2016, the same weekend as current UConn freshman Lexi Gordon. The Fort Worth, Texas, native announced her commitment a month later.
“When I committed she said, ‘Maybe we could be future Huskies one day,’ ” Gordon said. “I knew that in the back of her mind she wanted to come here. I’m glad she went through the process, took her time, and decided this is the place for her.”
Williams averaged 26.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.4 steals as a junior in leading Central Arkansas Christian to a 29-5 record. She was named Arkansas’ Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight season.
This summer, Williams was the youngest player on the United States U-19 national team that traveled to Italy and took part in the FIBA U-19 World Cup. She averaged 3.2 points and 1.7 rebounds. Team USA - which included UConn’s Crystal Dangerfield and Walker - won the silver medal.
During her announcement Friday, Williams said the player she looked most forward to playing with was Dangerfield.
“That’s special,” Dangerfield said. “Playing with her was a good experience, just figuring out how she operates and what she likes to do on the court. I like her personality. She’s always cracking jokes and she’s fun to be around.
“She can do a little bit of everything. She gets to the rim. She’s very aggressive and can finish with contact. She’s got a great shot and great handle. I felt (during the summer) that she liked UConn the most and I thought she would benefit by coming here. Great guards play here and she wants to be great.”
Also in July, Williams teamed with North Carolina freshman Janelle Bailey, Texas freshman Destiny Littleton, and Baylor signee Aquira DeCosta to win the gold medal at the FIBA 3x3 U-18 World Cup in China.
She represented her country for the first time in 2016 and averaged 11.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in 30.9 minutes per game as Team USA won the bronze medal at the FIBA U-17 world championships in Spain.
Williams is also a member of her school’s National Honor Society.
“She’s driven to succeed at the highest level,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She wants to challenge herself. She wanted the same things that we have and we wanted her to be a part of this. There was a connection between her and our staff and our program from the beginning. Today was her announcement and we’re thrilled about it. It’s exciting anytime when you get a player with that kind of potential.”
UConn now awaits the decision of Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a 6-4 post player from Winder, Georgia.