Jayquan Williams didn’t have to wait long to play in a big game.
Williams is a junior guard on the Frankford High School basketball team, and since he made the Pioneers varsity team a year ago, he’s been in his share of important games.
But playing in pressure-filled games is nothing new.
He’s been doing it virtually his whole life.
“My brother, he was 12 and was on a team, and my mom was the coach,” Williams recalled. “They were playing in a championship and they only had four guys, so they needed me to play. I was 5, and I was out there with them.
“My mom is a really good coach, and they had me out there just to play defense. I wasn’t even trying to score, I was just getting in the other team’s way. I had a lot of fun. We lost, I remember that, but I don’t remember much else about it.”
That day, Williams learned that he could contribute to a basketball team by just doing the little things. And that’s exactly how he plays to this day.
Sure, Williams can contribute on the scoreboard, averaging about 10 points per game for the Pioneers, but that’s not what his job is. At Frankford, his role is to make sure everything is going right on the court, and when it’s not, slow the game down and be the coach on the floor.
“I’d say my job is to do the little things, defend, get everyone else involved and then score,” Williams said. “When we need a basket, I’ll try and score, but I like doing all the other things. I like playing defense. I like getting others involved.
“I usually play shooting guard, but I like to play on the ball because when you’re playing point, you are more of a leader. I like being a leader, so I guess point guard is my favorite position to play.”
No matter what position he’s at, Williams hopes his Pioneers can start winning games.
The team is 3–4 in the early going, but has played a tough schedule to prepare for its Public League slate.
Frankford is 1–1 in its conference play, and the loss came to Imhotep Charter, which is coming off a state championship and is expected to be just as strong this year.
So the Pioneers are done with their toughest stretch and are moving in the right direction.
Still, Williams knows more work is needed.
“We have games like (a 56–36 loss to Father Judge on Dec. 21) and we’re not good enough to play like we did,” Williams said.
“When we play like that, we can lose to anyone. Judge is good and all, but we can play a lot better than we did. I think we can play with them, but we just didn’t.
“I do think it’s good we play like that now because we needed to see what happens when we play like that. Everyone should know that if we play without heart, we’re not going to be able to beat anyone. Anyone can beat us when we play that way.”
Williams also knows he has things to work on.
If there’s one thing everyone knows about him, it’s that he’ll put in all the time he can to make sure he improves.
“Jayquan is the type of player you want on your team because he’s always ready to work hard to make himself and the team better,” said Frankford coach Jamie Ross, who guided the Pioneers to the Public League 6A championship game before losing to Lincoln last year during his first year as coach. “It starts in practice, and he brings it to the games. The other players look to him for leadership, and he always gives it everything he has. He’s the kind of player you want to have on your team.”
The work ethic and even the basketball knowledge is something Williams attributes to his mom.
Though she wasn’t a player, she watches the game a lot, and whenever he needs a tip, Williams just asks his mom.
Chances are, she’s going to know the answer and perfectly explain it.
“I think she’s as good as any coach I’ve ever had,” said Williams, who lives in Frankford. “She comes to most of my games, she only misses if she has to work. She told me she learned everything by just watching.
“I know I get my leadership from her. She knows so much about the game and she’s always trying to teach me. I have great coaches here, too, so I’m lucky. I am always getting better because people help me get better. I hope that helps us get better.”