Two years ago, after capturing the Horizon League Championship, Fountain Central graduate Macee Williams and the IUPUI Jaguars were set to play in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Little did they know that a global pandemic would force the cancellation of the tournament, denying them their chance to compete on the national stage.
Last season after posting a 15-5 record, Williams and the Jags were just one win away from getting back to the tourney, but fell in the conference championship game to top-seeded Wright State 53-41.
In the post-game press conference, Williams said she would be using her extra year of eligibility for one last chance to play on the biggest stage in women’s college basketball.
Led by Williams, the reigning three-time Horizon League Player of the Year, IUPUI has been picked as the preseason conference champions, along with Williams being named the preseason player of the year.
“I made the decision to come back pretty early on,” she said. “I had a conversation with Coach P (Austin Parkinson) and we talked about where I stand in terms of potentially being drafted in the WNBA. We both decided that this extra year would be very beneficial for me. After the tournament, at the press conference, I just felt like it was the right time to let everybody know. We as a team have some unfinished business to take care of.”
Coach Parkinson knows Williams can play at the next level, and with what’s to hopefully be a normal season, he believes Williams can round out her game and be a true all-around player.
“I felt like her coming back for another season would give her another opportunity,” he said. “There were all kinds of restrictions a season ago with COVID so we couldn’t work with her as much as we would have liked. This fall we’ve already seen her start to improve some of those things such as shooting from the perimeter and all of that will be extremely beneficial as we get ready to start the season.”
Williams is already the all-time leader in IUPUI Women’s basketball history with 1,851 career points scored. She is also 170 total rebounds (1,003 currently) away from moving into first place all-time in career rebounds. Along with those accolades, Williams is the only three-time Horizon League Player of Year and this season will be looking to make it four straight.
With Williams leading the way, Parkinson is looking forward to enjoying every step of the way with this team.
“Our goals are always to compete for championships,” he said. “But with that being said, we’ve never spent a ton of time talking about banners and trophies. We’re focused on getting better every single day and really enjoying what’s hopefully a return to somewhat normalcy. Being able to enjoy every moment with Macee and this class of seniors and make their last season of college basketball as memorable as possible is a big focus.”
With all of the preseason hype surrounding Williams and her team this season, some may think that all the pressure is on them to perform.
Williams thinks otherwise.
“I don’t feel like there’s any extra pressure with this season,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to put any more pressure than I do already on myself. It’s also nice having a loving and caring team around me and in my corner to be there anytime I need them.”
Williams may be one of the greatest players in IUPUI Women’s Basketball history, but she never forgets her small-school roots. The Mustang family has helped mold her into the player she is today.
“It means so much to me to be able to go back home and know that everyone still keeps in touch with what you’re doing,” she said. “After we won the conference title I went back to the middle school just to tell them thank you for supporting me, and I had little girls come up to me crying. It wasn’t until that point where I realized what a role model I was to all of them back home.”
Parkinson echoed Williams comments about being from Veedersburg and seeing a small-town girl grow up to a be a generational talent.
“I think she carries that weight on her shoulders, and wants to make them back home very proud,” he said. “She’s done that very well. Macee is a very humble person and I think she possesses a combination of that humbleness along with that sense of pride of being from where she is.”
After missing out on the tournament two years ago, and falling just short a season ago, Williams and IUPUI are ready to put the icing on the cake of what’s been a remarkable run.
“It would mean the world to us as a program,” Williams said. “We’ve already come so far as a team and have started to put ourselves further on the map each and every year. To play in the tournament and get there in my last season would be extremely rewarding.”
The regular season for Williams and IUPUI begins Nov. 9 as they will begin a five-game road trip, opening up against the Michigan Wolverines.
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