Southern signs BRCC’s Ashley Williams

The graduation of Adrian Sanders left the Southern women’s basketball team with some big sneakers to fill, but coach Sandy Pugh thinks she found someone who can do it.

The Jaguars signed Baton Rouge Community College’s Ashley Williams on Wednesday, adding a versatile leader to the defending Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season champions.

“She’ll be able to step right into Adrian’s shoes,” Pugh said. “She can rebound and get up and down the floor. She’s a hybrid like Adrian was.

“She has toughness, which definitely will fill a void. She can put the ball on the floor and finish in the lane. She’s a natural leader.”

Williams, who played at Walker High School, averaged 19.5 points last season in helping the Lady Bears (24-7) advance to the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament. She shot 51 percent on field goals and 3-pointers.

“She was a dual threat for us,” BRCC coach Paula Lee said. “She can take the ball coast to coast, but when teams would play zone against us, she knocked down some big 3-point shots for us. She couldn’t do that as a freshman.”

The Jaguars didn’t have a scholarship to offer Williams until late March. That’s when Pugh gave a release to guard Zeneka Willix so Willix could move closer to ailing relatives at home in Winter Haven, Fla.

Willix played in 24 games off the bench as a freshman last season, averaging 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds.

Sanders played shooting guard and both forward positions, averaging 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists.

Lee said Williams had four or five schools recruiting her regularly, but that number tripled after the Lady Bears’ lone game in the NJCAA tournament.

“We were lucky to get her at the last minute,” Pugh said. “A lot of folks were after her.”

The Southern men didn’t sign anyone Wednesday, which was the first day of the spring signing period.