Lady Tigers sway Jassany Williams

Sometimes the key for recruiting really is the official visit. A school that makes a final five but isn't necessarily a front-runner can move from middle of a list to head and shoulders above the rest during a weekend.

Case in point: Auburn and Jassany Williams.

Williams, No. 59 in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred, had Auburn in her final five, along with Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida and Pittsburgh before she took her official visit to Auburn's campus near the Alabama-Georgia border.

The 6-foot-2 forward from Boca Raton, Fla., returned home Sept. 27 in love with the Tigers and, one week later, called coach Nell Fortner with the good news: Williams was set to join the nation of orange and blue.

"It was just a place I could fit in," Williams said Monday. "Auburn felt like a second home on my visit; it had a nice vibe."

So nice was the vibe for Williams that she felt Auburn climb the charts after her visit.

"Auburn snuck in the back door," Team Breakdown coach Pat Gajardo said. "I thought Miami and Georgia Tech might be leading, but her official visit to Auburn pretty much put them at the forefront."

Williams' final five included Miami, where she also took an official, and Georgia Tech, as well as Florida and Pittsburgh. But the feeling on campus, and a bit of family within a two-hour drive, helped propel Auburn into the leading role.

"They just want me to keep up the work ethic I have now," said Williams, who said she currently practices seven days a week. "Conditioning is a big thing for them."

Williams, a long and powerful forward/center, helped lead her Nova High School team to the state championship game in February, the program's first trip to the finals. She spent the past summer playing for Team Breakdown.

"Coach Nell has a heck of a resume," Gajardo said. "I think that was one of the deciding factors for her, too."

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Mindi Rice is a National High School / ESPN HoopGurlz staff writer. She previously was an award-winning sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and a barista at Starbucks, and grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She can be reached at mindi@hoopgurlz.com.