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The Future is now for VHS

Vicksburg High senior Sederick Williams grabs hold of the rim while getting ready to dunk with his left hand. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/24/04]Every time Sederick Williams scores a basket, his nickname echoes through the Vicksburg High gym “The Future.” It’s an old nickname from his rec league days, and maybe a fitting one for a player with so many pasts.

Williams has been a shooting guard, then a point guard and a shooting guard again. He’s been on a state championship team and one that went nowhere. He’s been a role player, a floor leader and a go-to-guy.

It seems as if Williams is constantly reinventing himself, always building to, well, the future. In his current incarnation, the Vicksburg guard has melded several of his former basketball selves together into one package to create one great basketball player.

He has the shooting touch of the two-guard. The wisdom and floor vision of a point guard. And, most importantly, the quickness to take the ball and score almost at will. Williams is averaging a career-high 20.7 points per game this season.

“Shooting, being a team leader. It’s all the little things he does better this year than last year. It makes us a better team,” VHS point guard Fred Thomas said. “I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a good shooter, and the more confidence you have in him the more you try to get the ball to him.”

Williams made his mark as a shooter during the 2002-03 season, when Vicksburg won the Class 5A state championship. He was just a sophomore then, but played his role perfectly.

While several players took care of the rebounding and Devin Jones ran the show at point guard, Williams’ job was to set up outside and knock down 3-pointers. He averaged 11 points per game that season as the team’s only non-senior starter.

“When he started for that state championship team, he was the guy you couldn’t leave open,” VHS coach Dellie C. Robinson said.

The following season, however, Williams started to pay the price for being the only returning starter from a great team.

Jones was gone, so Robinson needed a new point guard. After trying unsuccessfully to find someone to play the position, he turned to Williams. Robinson had no choice. Not only was Williams the Gators’ best ball handler, he was the only one who could get it across halfcourt.

“That’s a tough responsibility,” Robinson said. “You look up and all of a sudden it’s your basketball team, and how well you play is going to determine how successful you are. It’s a big responsibility for any young man.”

Indeed, Williams struggled with the adjustment. His scoring average went up to 18 points per game, but he seemed to have as many bad shots as good ones during some games. And when his teammates struggled with their shooting, he took over the offense completely.

As a team, Vicksburg slumped to a 13-16 finish and lost in the first round of the division tournament.

“It was tough, because every night you’re being trapped and you have to find a way out of the trap,” Williams said.

It wasn’t until Thomas moved to the point late in the season that Williams started to get some relief. Robinson said the change in Williams’ game was evident immediately.

“It killed us,” Robinson said of Williams’ stint at point guard. “But we searched and searched, and at the end of the year we finally realized Fred Thomas could play point guard. When I finally decided Fred was going to be the point guard, I know that made Sederick happy. He instantly became a better player.”

The improvement continued into this season. With Thomas playing well at point guard, Williams was able to move back to shooting guard and do what he does best launch 3-pointers and score.

He has scored at least 10 points in every game this season, and surpassed the 30-point mark twice including the season-opener against Crystal Springs, when he hit seven 3-pointers and scored 35 points.

Williams has scored at least 20 points in 10 of Vicksburg’s 16 games, and provided game-winning free throws in the last 10 seconds on three different occasions. The last time it happened, against No. 10 Madison Central, he hit two free throws with 3.3 seconds to play to seal a 77-73 victory and cap a 32-point performance.

“He was scoring a lot of points when he was at (point guard), but moving back to the two and getting everybody else involved made the whole team better,” Robinson said. “He doesn’t have to worry about setting the offense up and making sure everybody is in place. All he has to worry about is coming off those screens.”

While the move away from the point has certainly helped Williams, he said he’s also benefited from his time there.

Running the offense gave him a new understanding of the game, how players are supposed to move and what to do to get open.

“I realized turnovers do count, and how hard it is for a point guard to get the wing man the ball,” Williams said. “I do like setting up on the wing. When I set up on the wing, it seems like I can see the court better.”

He also learned the importance of ball handling, and worked on it over the summer by dribbling in the dark. He didn’t practice in some darkened basement, but rather on the roads near his home off Gibson Road.

“I stay in the country. There’s not too many streetlights,” Williams said with a laugh.

While his offensive abilities have drawn the most attention, Williams is also a capable defender. He’s averaging about four steals per game, most of which are converted into easy layups or assists at the other end of the floor.

“He creates at least six points per game with his steals,” Robinson said.

So what’s in the future for The Future?

Williams said he wants to play on the next level, but no colleges have shown interest yet. That leaves just the high school game, and making another run at a state title.

Vicksburg has struggled to an 8-8 record this season, but has lost a number of close games. Nine of the Gators’ last 10 games have been decided by seven points or less, and they are 4-6 in that span.

Williams believes the Gators aren’t far from having a special season if they can clean up the mistakes and turn a few of those heartbreaking losses into memorable wins.

“In my eyes, I think we can get back to the Coliseum,” Williams said. “We just have to stop the minor turnovers. It’s the little things that’s costing us games.”

While the losses can be frustrating, Williams is keeping a positive outlook. He pointed out that playing well in the division tournament and beyond is what really matters, and it’s hard to do that if a team isn’t enjoying themselves.

“You’ve got to have fun when you’re playing,” Williams said. “If you’re not having fun, you’re probably not going to win too many.”