Intense competition is what has drawn Killeen senior guard Meleanna Williams to love the game of basketball.
She tried every variety of athletics before she committed solely to the game.
“I did the whole nine yards,” she admitted. “I did tackle football, cheerleading, volleyball, soccer, swimming with my Godparents over the summer when I was younger.
“Everything and anything. Even track, but basketball really stuck with me.”
When Williams started at Patterson Middle School, she focused on just three sports- volleyball, basketball and running hurdles in track.
But in eighth grade she decided one sport was for her.
“I knew I was going to be done with volleyball,” Williams said. “I was debating with track, but then I completely stopped because I didn’t want to be outside. That was really it.
“The way our weather is set up, I don’t want to mess with it, so I just stuck with an inside sport,” added the Killeen native, laughing at the fact that running in the elements steered her to play only indoor activities.
Although it took her a few years to settle on a single activity, there was one thing Williams always knew — she only ever wanted to be a Kangaroo.
“Before I even started taking basketball serious, I used to come and watch Lauren Watkins play,” the senior said. “I used to come and watch the games and that’s when I realized I want to be a Roo.”
The three-year varsity guard has been an intense competitor and knows she’s built quite a reputation for herself.
Occasionally, Williams gets caught up in the moment of competition and lands on a player when they both go for the rebound, or goes for a steal and ends up trying to hop over the scorer’s table, but as soon as the play is over, she’s the first to help a girl up.
“The No. 1 thing is safety,” she said. “I want people to know I’m not out to hurt you.
“I’ve heard there’s kids out here who think I’m out to hurt them, and that’s not my intentions at all, I want to see everyone be great — especially in basketball.”
If anything, Williams takes even the idea of injuring another player to heart.
“I know injuries can be detrimental,” she noted. “I stepped on a girl’s ankle one time and, luckily, she wasn’t hurt and I really felt bad because I thought, ‘Dang, what if it had broke? Then what?’ Then it would be over for her, maybe?
“It’s a scary thought, so I think sportsmanship is a big thing and needs to be enforced. So as a leader I try to make sure everyone sees that and helps the opponent up.”
Safety is her priority but Williams is a self-proclaimed smack talker.
“Because if you’re the person in front of me, you’re not stopping me,” she explained. “You could be the best person — even Michael Jordan — I don’t care, I’m going to tell you, ‘You suck and you can’t guard me.’
“But I tell people after the games, like, ‘Hey, what I said on the court, don’t take it to offense. It’s basketball, we talk.’”
Williams is constantly studying basketball to improve her game, including staying up late into the night to catch reruns of Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson-era basketball on Hardwood Classics.
She also knows being vocal on the court might remind people of a particular WNBA player — Phoenix Mercury’s point guard Diana Taurasi.
“I love her,” she said of the three-time WNBA champion. “I may not be as good as her right now, but I do see in myself a lot of things that I’ve seen Taurasi do.
“She talks during the games. I love to talk; she has her mindset of no one’s better than her and, honestly, that’s me.”
Considering the two play the same position, Williams looks to Taurasi as the kind of point guard she’d like to emulate in her final season with the Roos.
“I honestly feel like I can be the best point guard in the district,” she said.
“I may not score as many points as other guards in the district, but to me, that’s not what it’s all about.”
Williams aims to be the type of point guard who leads her team by getting them involved in every aspect of the game.
“I’m not worried too much about scoring,” she admits. “If you notice, most of my turnovers are me trying not to be selfish. Even when I need to be, I try to get my teammates involved and control the floor.
“I want people to notice that I’m a true point guard and true point guards are not for scoring all the time.”
While Williams can score, the stats that matter most to her are her turnovers and assists.
As a senior, Williams has also started to think about her future and where basketball fits in.
“I’m going to take basketball as far as it takes me,” she said. “If I get the chance, after college, to go any type of pro, I’m going to take the opportunity.”
Being realistic in knowing that not very many opportunities exist for females in basketball beyond the WNBA and coaching, Williams has some backup plans.
“I plan on being a criminal profiler in the FBI,” she said, noting that her passion to take bad people off the streets stems from her junior high love of watching the TV show “Criminal Minds.”
“I don’t think I’m capable of being a coach, that’s not where I fit in at.
“Maybe an assistant coach, and that’s me just now thinking about it.”
With just seven more guaranteed games left to play for Killeen, Williams is proud to represent the Lady Roos.
“No regrets,” she said. “I’ve loved it, every single step of the way — every win, every loss, I don’t regret any decision I’ve made.
“This is my school and I bleed maroon.”