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Jada Williams

UCLA Commit Jada Williams Wants to Elevate the Women’s Game | SLAM



Jada Williams doesn’t just got next, she’s got now.

The top ranked prospect in the class of 2023, who committed to UCLA back in March, has continued to make a name for herself on the court. From her elite mid-range jumper to her athleticism on the court as a scorer, the La Jolla Country Day High School point guard won the JR NBA Championship in 2021 and was selected to play for Team USA at the FIBA Americas U16 tournament. There, she averaged 11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game while helping lead the team to a 6-0 record and a gold medal.

In September, Williams turned up at the Nike Nationals and effortlessly showed off her versatility, knocking down shots from three-point range and dishing out dimes to her teammates. Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony was even in attendance.


When we caught with Jada earlier this month, it was clear that not only is she confident, but her passion for the game runs deep.

“A lot of people say, Oh, how come you don’t average 30? At the end of day, I want to win,” Williams told SLAM over the phone. “I’m gonna do whatever I have to do in the game to win, I’m gonna be the person that dives on the floor every possession. I’m going to be the person that guards the best player on the floor. I’m gonna do all that…If my thing that game is to have 30 assists, that’s what I’m gonna do…My whole heart is into this game. This is my passion, this is one of my purposes.”

“Every time I step out there, I’m going to communicate with my teammates, I’m going to be a leader of the team, I’m gonna do all that because, like, in my head, I’m a true PG…That’s my goal: to be able to lead the team on the court. Yes, there’s a coach off the court, and I’m going to have a special relationship with them, but when we’re in between those [court] lines, it’s us five versus the other team, right? So when I step out there, I’m going to be the leader of the pack. It’s me and my mine versus you and yours. I think that’s what really separates me, just knowing that I can impact the game more than just scoring.”

That passion will serve her well at UCLA and as the newest brand ambassador of Spalding. Williams says she’s ready to use her platform to help elevate the women’s game, and through the multiyear partnership, she’ll help front campaigns, collaborate on a limited-edition basketball series, and even engage in programs focused on growing women’s youth basketball.

“Ever since I was young, I’ve always played with a Spalding. [I’ve heard] that I played with other balls, just because I had to because the game ball was something different, but usually it was always Spalding or Wilson. So, just being able to be here now, like, when I was younger, I just remember getting my first ball for Christmas and being able to play outside with it, taking it everywhere basically, not really knowing where it was going to take me in life.”


“To be in this position and grow the women’s game [as] one of the first girls to sign with the basketball company and still being a junior in high school is something that I never [knew] I would do. But, I’m super blessed. I prayed for times like this and God put it on my plate because He knows I can handle it. So, [I’m staying] grounded, being humble [and helping] grow the game and use my platform to the best of my ability.”

As a standout female hopper on the rise, Williams says it’s always been a priority of hers to use her platform to inspire others, especially young girls. Growing up, she looked up to players like Sue Bird and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who showed her that she could be into modeling and fashion and hoop at the same time.

“When I was younger, [people would] say, Oh, well, you can’t be a girly girl and play basketball. She kind of paved the way for me [where] I could be cute, I could take pictures if I want to and can still get on the court and hoop with the boys if I have to. The WNBA in general, these women go through so much adversity with the haters…The WNBA just inspires me.”

With that, Williams says she cherishes the moments she got to spend talking to the late-Kobe Bryant, and wants to continue to honor both his, and Gigi’s legacy.

“Kobe, [he] was probably my biggest inspiration ever. I would definitely call him like an uncle to me. Every time I spoke to him, he always had wise words and made me wake up every day and really think to myself, how can I push myself beyond the limits that other people don’t…When I wake up in the morning, I think about, How can I live their legacy? I just feel like God is just telling me to just go hard, go hard, go hard.”

She admits that when her mom told her about the opportunity to work with Spalding, her immediate reaction was, Spalding, as in the basketball company? To her own surprise, the legendary basketball brand—who has been changing the game since it debuted its first-ever product in 1937—wanted her to be their brand ambassador alongside NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan and even Australian pro hooper Ezi Magbegor.

“I’ve done other stuff where I post on my instagram with one ball, but I had never signed a contract because up until now, it wasn’t allowed because of NCAA rules,” she says. “I knew stuff was gonna come in, but I didn’t know that it was going to come in as soon as it did.”

“What better platform to be [an] ambassador for the company and be able to grow the women’s game,” she adds. “That’s one of my ultimate goals: to grow the women’s game and be somebody that the younger girls can look up to. People ask me, well what do you want to do? and I’m like, inspire young kids.


And, now that college student-athletes can profit off of their own name, image and likeness (NIL), and high school athletes can do so in the state of California, brand deals such as this one will also give Williams the opportunity to give back to her family.

“I think for all athletes, whatever we get to do now is a blessing because we’ve always dreamed about this. Everyone’s always been, you know, debating why we shouldn’t [and] why we should get paid and stuff like that, but when they passed [the NIL legislation], I feel like we do so much and we give our life to this and [now] we’re able to give back and provide for our families. That’s really my goal, like, I’m not trying to get money to buy shoes right now. It’s for the long run—to be able to start those connections.”

Don’t get it twisted though, Williams says her aspirations aren’t just financial. She’s looking to use her platform and fulfill her purpose:


“Money is not the end goal here, it’s to grow the game,” she clarifies. “Everybody’s passionate about something, basketball and something. It’s not just basketball, you know? My purpose is much bigger than basketball. If I can be that light in someone’s dark world now, that’s my end goal.”

Spalding is releasing a new collection of apparel, the Fundamentals—which features an exclusive collection of tees, sweatpants, shorts and hoodies that make for the perfect on, and off, court fit. It’s available starting November 5.

Photos via Spalding and Getty Images.

The post UCLA Commit Jada Williams Wants to Elevate the Women’s Game as a Brand Ambassador for Spalding appeared first on SLAM.

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