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2022-23 Player Preview: McKayla Williams

The junior guard has earned minutes by being a reliable defensive disruptor, but being a more complete producer is her ticket to earning more minutes.

NCAA Womens Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs BYU Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When Lisa Fortier needed defensive reinforcements from the bench last season, she regularly turned to McKayla Williams. It may not have been the starring role that some envisioned for the former Top 100 recruit, but it was a consistent role and a solid step forward for Williams who was behind Cierra Walker and Abby O’Connor on the depth chart.

Now a junior, Williams represents one of the intriguing internal developmental storylines heading into the season. Williams has already proven to be a solid defender—her skills at that end of the floor earned her an appearance in every single game last season at an average of almost 13 minutes per game. It’s at the other end where a big step forward from Williams would be a boon for Gonzaga as Fortier looks to piece the puzzle together. Williams’ athleticism and length for the guard position gives Fortier options in how she crafts her rotations, as that skillset serves as a good supplement to the Truong twins and also allows Gonzaga to field a big backcourt when Williams plays alongside Bree Salenbien.

Williams hasn’t been a stretch-the-floor shooter through her first two seasons at Gonzaga (7-33, 21.2% 3PT), but she should be able to score in other ways and a consistent increase in her offensive production would help Gonzaga overcome some of the extended offensive droughts that have plagued the offense over the last two seasons. If Fortier considered taking a page out of the Mark Few’s playbook and dialed up the tempo a bit, Williams could be a more dynamic threat with the Truong twins who can also push the ball down the floor.

Of course, there’s always new competition at Gonzaga and this year is no different. Fortier brought in Brynna Maxwell (along with Destiny Burton) who is a grad transfer, and she will challenge Williams for heavy minutes on the wings. Maxwell was quite successful at Utah, twice earning Pac-12 honorable mention awards while averaging 10.5 ppg in just 20 minutes per game last season. Maxwell can shoot the three-ball, so she offers a strength that Williams hasn’t displayed yet.

But, if Williams has made strides in that department over the summer and made herself a greater offensive threat, she should be in line for a bigger role this season.