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Jylisa Williams, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, became the first Lakehead standout to claim the Nan Copp Award and only the third player from the Thunderwolves program to capture a major national award in women’s basketball. She joins Lindsay Druery, who merited the Sylvia Sweeney Award in 2012, and Angela Hrkac, who received the Tracy MacLeod Award in 1999.
Williams took CIS by storm in her final two years of eligibility with Lakehead, after starting her post-secondary career at Georgia State in the NCAA, where she played for two seasons, and at Olds College in Alberta, where she was voted the CCAA player of the year in her lone campaign in 2012-13.
Named a first-team OUA West all-star in her Thunderwolves debut a year ago after she averaged 20.2 points per game, the 5-foot-8 guard exploded this season with a remarkable 28.8 points per contest, the highest average across the country since three-time CIS MVP Sandra Carroll of Winnipeg scored 30.3 per game in 1994-95. Williams broke the single-game school record multiple times over the past two years and set a new OUA standard on Feb. 6 against Toronto when she poured in 50 points in an 86-69 win.
The sociology student also set a single-season OUA mark this year with 548 points in 19 league games. She finished first in the nation in points (548), field goals made (198), free throws made (150) and steals (76), and ranked fifth in defensive rebounds (135), seventh in rebounds (177) and rebounds per game (9.3), as well as ninth in field goal percentage (54.1). Her performances helped the T-Wolves take second place in the OUA Central standings with a 14-5 mark.
“I wish to thank all my coaches, teammates, opponents and fans that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, working with, and competing against along my journey here in the CIS,” says Williams.
She continued, “On behalf of my teammates, coaches and everyone at Lakehead University and in the community of Thunder Bay, thank you.”
“I’ve never coached an athlete like Jylisa,” said head coach Jon Kreiner. “She’s a once in a lifetime type of player, who is not only amazing on her own, but involves her teammates and elevates their game to higher levels.”
The other finalists were Dalhousie guard Courtney Thompson, McGill forward Mariam Sylla and UBC guard Kris Young.