LITTLE ROCK — 2020 Arkansas commit Jaylin Williams of Fort Smith Northside was named Gatorade Arkansas Boys High School Player of the Year on Thursday.
Williams (6-10 forward / center, composit national No. 72 / 4-star prospect) is the second Northside boys player to earn the honor in the past three seasons as he joins former Grizzly and Razorbacks star sophomore guard Isaiah Joe, who was named Gatorade Arkansas Boys POY in 2018. Williams is also one of two Northside players to earn the honor this season as 2021 Arkansas Razorbacks women’s basketball target Jersey Wolfenbarger was named the Gatorade Arkansas Girls POY last week.
“It’s a honor to win such a prestigious award,” Williams said. “When I first saw when Zai (Joe) won it my 10th grade year I told myself I wanted it next.”
Williams said in an interview on March 18 that he planned to sign with the Hogs “during the (spring) signing period” that runs April 15-May 20, although those dates could change given the current “dead period” in recruiting issued by the NCAA in response to covid-19 virus concerns.
Williams is ready to be a Hog, and he looks forward to helping his homestate team in year two of the Eric Musselman era.
“From watching last season I feel like I can come in and have a big impact for the team,” Williams said. “But from when I first started to get noticed I always said one thing and it was ‘I’m going to do whatever I need to do to make sure we win’ and I’m going to keep that same attitude on the next level.”
Williams was glad to see Musselman and assistant coach Corey Williams in attendance at Northside for Senior Night on Feb. 21 against then-No. 1 North Little Rock, a game in which Williams had 21 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, & 3 blockks in then-No. 9 Northside’s 45-42 upset win over the Charging Wildcats.
“It was good having them there knowing they were there to show some support.” Williams said.
Williams was named Hogville.net / @ARHoopScoop Arkansas Boys High School Co-Player of the Year last week, joining fellow future Hog Davonte “Devo” Davis of Jacksonville.
Williams averaged 19.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.5 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game in leading Northside (20-10) to a second-place finish in the rugged 6A-Central conference en route to a berth in the 6A state semifinals. He finished his 3-year Grizzlies career with 1,216 points (top 5 all-time in school history) and 826 rebounds (tops all-time in school history), and he’s the school’s all-time leader in rebounds-per-game and rebounds in a season (328 in 2018-19).
Williams was a walking 20-10 hammer as a senior, and his statement game was a 33-point, 11-rebound, 3-steal, 2-block, 1-assist dominating performance going head-to-head against national Top 15 / 5-star prospect and 7-foot North Carolina signee Walker Kessler in December.
Below is the Press Release Announcing the Award.
CHICAGO (March 26, 2020) — In its 35th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, today announced Jaylin Williams of Fort Smith Northside High School as its 2019-20 Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Williams is the second Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Fort Smith Northside High School. The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Williams as Arkansas’ best high school boys basketball player.
Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, Williams joins an elite alumni association of past state boys basketball award winners, including Karl-Anthony Towns (2012-13 & 2013-14, St. Joseph High School, N.J.), Dwight Howard (2003-04, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Ga.), Chris Bosh (2001-02, Lincoln High School, Texas), Paul Pierce (1994-95, Inglewood High School, Calif.), Chauncey Billups (1993-94 & 1994-95, George Washington High School, Colo.) and Jason Kidd (1991-92, St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, Calif.).
The 6-foot-10, 230-pound senior center led the Grizzlies to a 20-10 record and the Class 6A semifinals this past season. Williams averaged 18.7 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 blocks per game. A First Team All-State honoree, he was the Class 6A Player of the Year and the Class 6A State Championship MVP as a junior.
Williams has volunteered locally on behalf of flood relief efforts and youth basketball camps. “Jaylin Williams can do it all,” said Mike Abrahamson, head coach at Bryant High. “He can post up, shoot, drive, pass, handle the ball and he makes a huge difference in games with his defensive presence. I’ve never known him to have a game where he didn’t play a major factor in the outcome.”
Williams has maintained a 3.81 GPA in the classroom. Williams joins Gatorade Arkansas Boys Basketball Players of the Year Issac McBride (2018-19, Baptist Prep), Isaiah Joe (2017-18, Northside High School), Daniel Gafford (2016-17, El Dorado High School), Malik Monk (2015-16, Bentonville High School) and Kevaughn Allen (2014-15, North Little Rock High School) among the state’s list of former award winners. The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.
The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport. The 2019-2020 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year announcement has been temporarily postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, The Gatorade Company will follow the guidance of experts and health officials as it determines the appropriate time to announce this year’s winner.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Williams also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year. Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.Gatorade.com/POY, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.