Courtesy of Saint Peter’s Athletics.

**Locker Room Talk is a Slice of Culture series where we highlight different athletes, coaches and more from local high schools and colleges from Hudson County and New Jersey overall.

When Jada Williams first started playing basketball, she thought it made sense because of her height. But after being in the sport for 10 years, she realized there’s more to it.

Williams is a 20-year-old junior at Saint Peter’s University, and has been a member of the women’s basketball team for the past two seasons. Playing with the Peacocks’ women’s basketball team made her fall more in love with the game.

Williams began her college basketball career with Temple University, transferring after her freshman season to join the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.

(Courtesy of Saint Peter’s Athletics)

Growing up always being one of the taller kids in her class, Williams started playing basketball at the age of ten. She started on her middle school teams, and continued success throughout her high school career. She averaged 13.3 points per game while at Gloucester Catholic. She earned First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-Conference in her freshman and sophomore years respectively and collected the Al Carino Award. 

Williams endured some obstacles, struggling with multiple injuries, leading to two knee surgeries.

Despite committing to Temple, she was not cleared to play for her freshman year. However, her surgeries served as a motivation to pursue a basketball career, telling Slice of Culture that the surgeries made her realized her talent and desire to play basketball professionally. 

I don’t wanna be injured and all that good stuff, but I will say that the process is a lot different. I am a lot more locked in,” she said. “… Now I’m here and it’s just like I took advantage of it in the beginning and now it’s like, ‘wait, I do have a gift. I do have a talent’ that the Lord has blessed me with… [I want to actually] pursue a career in basketball hopefully later on.”

She transferred to Saint Peter’s for her sophomore year and posted averages of 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists, leading the team in rebounds, shooting percentage, and third in points. The Peacocks finished the season with a 0-30 record, leaving Williams entering her junior year looking for a win under her belt. 

Williams suffered an ACL tear during her junior year, being limited to just four games. In the three full games before her injury, she averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 0.6 assists. She was able to secure her first win as a Peacock before her injury, defeating Central Connecticut. 

For her, this is her favorite college basketball memory so far.

“I only played four games, but I think my biggest thing is that I wanted to experience winning a game as a Peacock. And, you know, I did before I got injured. So I feel like that was definitely something that I’m going to remember for a while,” she said.  “You go from one season to the [next] season… We wanted to win, and then we finally got that win. I really wanted my coaches to experience that win. I wanted to experience the win with some of the players. That was definitely my favorite moment so far out of college basketball.”

Williams discussed the mental toll of suffering injuries forcing her to keep away from basketball from her high school junior year to her first year in college. Wanting a fresh start was one of the reasons she opted to transfer from Temple to Saint Peter’s.

This time around, she said she is in better spirits due to having went through this before and recovered. 

“I look back and I’m actually pretty thankful that I went through it already,” she added.

When asked about an athlete that she looks up to, she mentioned her cousin Hannah Hidalgo. Hidalgo recently finished her freshman year at Notre Dame, where she had an impressive season, being one of the top freshmen this year. She was a five-star recruit and ranked top five in her class by ESPN. She was also recently named First Team AP All-American.

I definitely do look up to her, her mental toughness and she plays like, you know, a straight dog. That’s what people say. She just goes out and she just gives ’em the works. But I mean, you know, I grew up with her, so she’s been like that since she was a kid,” she said.

Williams also praised the Saint Peter’s community, mentioning the school being small and tight-knit as a reason she felt at home. 

I don’t know everybody on campus, but… Hey when I got injured I had random maintenance people saying, ‘oh, you’re out. Like, is everything okay?’ You know, we were at your game’… I feel it is like a home here,” she added. “It doesn’t matter if you know somebody [or] you don’t know somebody, everyone’s always gonna smile at you.”

(Courtesy of Saint Peter’s Athletics)

She attributed her coaches at Saint Peter’s as one of the reasons she fell in love with the game. Williams didn’t have a good relationship with her coaches at Temple, so joining this understanding and supportive environment benefited her. 

Williams fully intends to play professional basketball, but is majoring in Criminal Justice and aiming for law school as a backup. Within law school, she would be focused on the basketball aspects of law. 

She is four months into her ACL surgery recovery, which is a 9-to 12-month timeline. She expects to be playing next season. 

Whether she will be playing her senior year at Saint Peter’s will be determined. On April 10, Williams reportedly entered the transfer portal, being eligible to transfer to another school, but can alternatively opt to stay with Saint Peter’s.

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