GULFPORT - Flanked by an abundance of family, friends and coaches, Ameshya Williams made her commitment to Mississippi State official Wednesday when she scribbled her signature on her National Letter of Intent.
Her signature was big for West Harrison High, marking the second Hurricane in 2016 to sign with a Division I school; football standout Josh Oatis signed with Texas-San Antonio in February.
Williams wasn't the only Hurricane to sign Wednesday as Damarius Ray (Northeast Mississippi Community College, football), Hakeem Wilson (North Carolina-Wesleyan College, football), Gabriel Barber (Mississippi Delta Community College, basketball), D'Anthony Bowie (Meridian Community College, basketball) also signed scholarships in front of classmates in the WHHS gym.
Tall and athletic, Williams has long been earmarked as a potential DI signee. Prior to putting pen to paper, Williams, typically shy in front of crowds when a basketball isn't involved, admitted to being anxious for what awaits.
"It's a mix of emotions. I'm ready to go, but I'm not," she said. "I'm just excited that I got to this point."
West Harrison coach Oatis Gates said whether or not Williams plays early will depend - at least in part - on how long it takes her to adjust to being away from home.
"College life is a lot different than high school life with being away from mom and new friends and new atmosphere," he said. "I think the transition will be a lot easier because (Harrison Central's) Jazzmun Holmes is up there.
"They played AAU together and know each other well so I think that will help."
As a senior, Williams did a little bit of everything for the Lady Hurricanes. She ranked among the state's leaders in averaging points (24.6) and rebounds (14.2). She also showed athleticism in the post, averaging 3.6 blocks and 2.8 steals per game.
"She's going to bring plenty of athleticism. There's no doubt about it," Gates said. "If you saw us in the championship game you know she'll bring a lot of grit, too, because she basically played the second half on one foot. I think that determination she's going to take with her."
Williams hurt her right ankle during West Harrison's run through the Class 5A playoffs but said she'll be ready to go when she reports to Starkville.
"I'm good now," she said.
The 6-foot-3 Williams wasn't afraid to lead the attack up the court or step out to knock down a long-range shot during her prep career. Gates said she'll need to continue to perfect her game in order to make an impact on one of the country's top basketball programs.
Gabriel Barber: The Mississippi Delta signee averaged 10 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game as a senior for WHHS. Barber also converted 27 of 82 3-point attempts.
D'Anthony Bowie: Bowie did a little of everything as well for the Hurricanes, scoring at a 9.6 clip along with averaging 3.1 rebounds, a team-high 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals. Like Barber, Bowie was a long-range threat, converting 22 of 71 3-point attempts as a senior.
Damarius Ray: The son of WHHS boys basketball coach Milton Ray, Damarius Ray played football at Greenwood this season before transferring back to the Coast. Quarterbacking Greenwood, Ray passed for 22 touchdowns and 1,747 yards against just four interceptions. He also rushed for 460 yards and four touchdowns.
Hakeem Wilson: Former WHHS football coach Sean Harden called Wilson a versatile athlete for the Hurricanes, specializing as a shutdown defensive back. He also got plenty of reps on offense, throwing a touchdown and catching another.