The Alcovy girls' basketball team reached new heights in the 2011-12 season, reaching the Class AAAA final four and winning 25 games.
The Tigers return most of that team in the upcoming season giving their opposition plenty of reasons to bring their best games. Adding to the growing target on Alcovy's backs is the fact that now it has two Southeast Conference Championship commitments.
Alcovy center Ashley Williams made her collegiate choice Monday, committing to the University of Alabama.
Williams joins teammate Meagan Tucker in naming her college choice before signing day, after the Tigers' leading scorer decided on Auburn in July.
Williams picked the Tigers from several suitors but decided on the Crimson Tide after visiting Tuscaloosca.
"I liked the campus and the coaching staff," Williams said.
Williams, who averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in her junior season, is over 1,000 rebounds and closing in on 1,000 points in just her fifth season playing basketball. She started in the sport in eighth grade, and has been playing at Alcovy under the tutelage of coach Kidada Holtzclaw.
Now just four years after starting to play the sport, Williams is entering another phase of her career getting ready to help the Crimson Tide.
Alabama finished 12-19 last year, and is entering the fifth season under coach Wendell Hudson. Hudson coached high school in Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama, two characteristics he shares with Holtzclaw.
Holtzclaw played for the Crimson Tide from 1994-1996, where she helped them reach four Sweet 16 appearances, and was a member of the 1996-97 All-Academic Southeastern Conference team. But when it came time for Williams to choose her college, Holtzclaw said she didn't try to sway the senior center, but let the school speak for itself.
"It's a great opportunity for her to go in and play right away," Holtzclaw said. "They play an up-tempo type of game."
Along with Williams going to Alabama, Holtzclaw has another player headed to the state in Tucker.
"I made it my point not to influence either of the kids," Holtzclaw said. "Meagan is going to Auburn and I hate Auburn. I just want a great experience for them at the collegiate level. As far as talking to them about my experience at the collegiate level, I've done that from day one."
Williams' experience at Alabama will differ from Holtzclaw, who graduated from there in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in human performances thanks in part to the Crimson Tide's football team.
"I was in the dorm with four people with a common area and a bathroom and now they have their own apartment and own bathrooms. It's a huge step up,"
Holtzclaw said. "The football program has done a lot of things for all programs. The old football dorm is now an entire academic center for the athletes."
Williams picked Alabama over such schools as Auburn, where she will face off against Tucker in future years. The two talked about going to the same school, but in the end it was the Crimson Tide that swayed Williams.
The college choice didn't leave any animosity between the two players who are trying to lead the Tigers to a Region 2-AAAAAA and Class AAAAAA championship.
"Meagan would have loved to play with her, but she chose Alabama," Holtzclaw said. "Meagan is happy for her just like Ashley is happy for Meagan."