Sophomore player shapes up for success

Maybe it’s the gentle sway of the palm trees underneath azure skies, or maybe it’s the blazing sun. Whatever it is, summertime in South Florida is the perfect time to sit back, relax and unwind at the beach.
But for sophomore guard Shanel Williams, this summer was the perfect time to whip her body into shape for the 2010-11 women’s basketball season.

Williams credits running on the treadmill and the football field for her sleeker 5-foot-8-inch frame.

“I didn’t really avoid too many foods,” Williams said. “I just ate smaller portion sizes.”

Katie Meier, the Miami Hurricane women’s basketball head coach, is excited about Williams’ mental and physical development as a player.

“It was a lot to take in for [Williams] last year,” Meier said. “But she is one of our brightest talents, and in the offseason she was able to learn the ins and outs of the game. And her trimmer frame will allow her to play for sustained periods of time.”

As a freshman, Williams had several standout performances, including a game against N.C State. Williams, who is right-handed, even developed a left-handed layup this summer. Yet Williams understands that there is still room for improvement.

“I was just getting used to everything,” she said. “Just being a freshman. I know there is more that I can do… My teammates inspire me to be great. I can’t just be average.”

And her desire to be great has translated into success on and off the court, where Williams intends to major in engineering and has a 4.0 GPA.

The key to her success?

“Balance. On Sundays, even if I don’t have to study or an assignment due, I use Study Hall to plan and schedule for the week,” she said.

Don’t let the impressive grades fool you. Williams loves hitting the town to see all the sights and sounds that Miami has to offer.

“It reminds me of New York-my home,” she said with a smile.

When Williams gets a moment away from the court and her textbooks, she is usually listening to Trey Songz or watching her favorite player, Dwyane Wade, slash to the hoop.

When asked how Wade would fare this season with his new supporting cast, Williams answered confidently, “As long as he keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’ll be fine.”

And, as long as Williams continues to play with the same grit and determination that fueled her early success as a freshman, she is sure to be a great asset to the Miami Hurricanes this season.

Nicole Carr may be contacted