Ameshya Williams-Holliday, a senior on Jackson State University women’s basketball team, has been drafted to the WNBA, making her the first HBCU player in 20 years to be recruited to the professional basketball league.
“It’s an honor, a dream come true and a blessing to be able to be a part of history and to be able to open doors for our HBCU community,” Williams-Holliday said in a statement to CNN. “Being a trailblazer feels amazing, but there is so much more to accomplish.”
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to continue my career on the next level and most importantly to continue to be a great example for my son Jace and my younger siblings and for the kids in my community,” she continued. “I want every HBCU athlete to never lose hope and to know anything is possible.”
Williams-Holliday will join a small group of HBCU-turned WNBA stars, including Andrea Gardner, a Howard University alum, who was drafted by the Utah Starzz in 2002 and now plays for the Washington Mystics. Also included in the groundbreaking group are North Carolina Central’s Amba Kongolo, who was selected by the Phoenix Mercury; former Starzz draft pick Jacklyn Winfield from Southern University and A&M College; and ex-Howard players Denique Graves and Karen Wilkins, who were drafted to the league in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
“I think if I was at a Power 5 school, it would be a different story of me being drafted or trying to get my foot in [the WNBA],” she previously told Andscape. “People think [HBCUs] can’t compete with other top institutions [or] a Power 5 school, but that’s not true,” she said. “I think we deserve to be on the same level. I do think if I was still at Mississippi State, I would be a first-round draft pick.”