Sidwell Friends’ Jelani Williams Receives Offer from James Madison

Jelani Williams reels in an unexpected sixth offer from James Madison after an incredible 2015-16 season.

Jelani Williams’ 23 points wasn’t enough for Sidwell Friends to overcome St. James for the MAC Championship (Video by James McGrath for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)


March 7, 2016 — Sometimes it takes an entire season for a high school athlete to get an offer from a school. There is initial contact from one of the coaches to the athlete, numerous trips out to see them play, and often more conversation later down the road. For the case of Jelani Williams, the process with James Madison University lasted a little over an hour.

The 6’5” junior point guard from Sidwell Friends School has carried the torch for the Quakers this season. Part of a team that is led by a young crop of players, Williams has emerged as their leader averaging 16.4 ppg.

The team’s success carried all the way to the MAC Championship where they would lose to St. James 66-57 in the title game. Williams was the star player for the team with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

“Certainly [Williams] has gotten a lot stronger this past year, he has been hitting the gym,” Sidwell Friends Head Coach Eric Singletary said. “He has been tremendous this season and does everything on the floor.”

Throughout the season James Madison had Williams on their radar. The Dukes had been in contact with his AAU Coach at Team Takeover and apparently loved him from the start. Once he realized that James Madison had not reached out to Williams and his family yet, he made a phone call and the offer soon came within the hour.


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His offer from Madison makes a six-team list that includes University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware, Old Dominion University, Hofstra University, and Colgate University.

“I have to improve the consistency of my ability to score from the perimeter before leaving for college,” said Williams. “I also want to keep getting better all around and keep improving my body and athleticism. But my number one goal for next year is to hang a banner. My school, coaches, and teammates deserve it.”

Going into his senior year he will have a lot on his plate as he will look to help lead the Quakers to the top of the MAC yet again. Williams though, is adamant on this task and is willing to do everything it takes to get there: with the eventual college decision he will have to make, along with the stress that is coming with his senior year of schooling.

Now the next step for Williams is to continue to harness his craft and prepare for his basketball future.

“[Jelani] has a good mix of humility and excitement. He’s a late bloomer of sorts so there is still a sense of validation for him,” his father, Kyle Williams, said. “He really hasn’t focused too much on them but he knows it’s part of the process and he’s looking forward to the next few months.”


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