May 19, 2018 3:47:14 PM
The stories started after Quintavin Williams received the text message from Brian Merkel.
The Mississippi University for Women's men's basketball coach contacted Williams to introduce himself and to ask him if he would be interested in attending the school.
Merkel also wanted to know if Williams was intrigued by the notion of being part of history.
Williams admitted later that he had heard about The W re-starting its athletic program and the talk about the possibility that the school would have a men's basketball program. Merkel's text solidified all of the speculation and led Williams to believe he had found a place to continue his athletic career.
When Quin showed the text message to his mother, Victoria, he heard all about life at The W.
"She was happy," said Williams, who had a standout senior season at Victory Christian Academy in Columbus. "She went there, and when she was there they cut the (athletic) program. She started telling stories."
Quin's stories will be a little different from Victoria's because he will have a chance to be a part of the Columbus school's first intercollegiate men's basketball team in 2018-19. Williams celebrated the opportunity last week in a signing ceremony in the VCA gymnasium.
"It is appealing because I am staying here at home with my friends, family, and support unit from VCA and other places," Williams said. "It is going to be a wonderful experience to be there and to be on the first men's basketball team."
Williams said he had been on The W's campus and that it had changed since the last time. He said he saw new buildings and construction that added to the sense of change for a school that returned to intercollegiate athletics in the 2017-18 school year. In 2018-19, men's and women's basketball, men's cross country, women's soccer, men's golf, and men's and women's tennis will play their first seasons. Williams is one of the first players to commit to Merkel, who was hired in April.
Williams said he had a good first impression when he visited The W. He said he even saw how the school turned the Pohl Gymnasium into a NCAA court and that it looked good. The W is in the early stages of a multi-year process to gain NCAA Division III membership.
Williams could play a key role in that transition. As a transfer from Columbus High School, Williams was an integral part of the VCA boys basketball team's run to the Alabama Christian Athletic Association Division I State title. Williams had 20 of his 32 points in the second half to lead VCA to a 55-52 overtime victory against Tuscaloosa Christian in the semifinals of the ACAA Division I State tournament. VCA then defeated New Life Christian 40-29 in the championship game. The loss avenged VCA's only loss and capped a 25-1 season in style.
Earlier in the tournament, Williams had 27 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists in a 72-43 victory against First Assembly Christian.
Despite the success, Williams said it took him time to find the right college fit. He said he visited Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Meridian Community College, East Central C.C., and East Mississippi C.C. as well as Blue Mountain College. He said the only feedback he received from his visits and his workouts/tryouts was from Blue Mountain College.
Still, Williams didn't lose faith.
"If it was to happen, it would have happened," Williams said.
Williams admitted he wasn't surprised it took as long as it did for him to receive a chance to play basketball at the next level. He said he knew he would have to work harder at VCA, which is in Columbus and plays mostly against schools in Alabama, because it is a smaller school than Columbus High, which plays in Class 6A, the highest in the state of Mississippi.
Williams said he was still thinking about basketball even after not receiving any offers. He said he considered training for a year to preserve his NCAA eligibility and then trying to walk on at a school. The text message from Merkel changed those plans and set him on a path to make history. Williams said he visited The W a day or two after receiving Merkel's message and quickly realized he had found a home.
"It is important (that he is one of the first men's basketball players at The W), but I am still there to get my education first," said Williams, who is considering studying to be an athletic trainer. "I am a student-athlete."
In the next four years, Williams figures to be a part of plenty of special moments that one day will become stories he will tell to his friends and to his mother. The first story he might tell is feeling a sense of relief after going through the recruiting process.
"I am not patient all of the time," Williams said when asked what it was like to have to wait so long for an opportunity. "I am patient with certain things. It was nothing but patience. I was hoping I would get an opportunity at the next level.
"It worked out great. (VCA) Coach Heath (Simpson) told me as soon as I get there if I work hard enough I will play somewhere else after college ball. When The W coach said he wanted me, it was like a perfect fit."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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