Peyton Williams has always had big basketball dreams, but representing her country in an international tournament wasn’t among them until recently.
As a two-sport star for the Kansas State Wildcats, she spends so much time focusing on hoops and volleyball that she was caught off guard when USA Basketball invited her to try out for the Pan American Games last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Me? Really? Do I even have time?
“I didn’t really understand it until I put on the jersey that said USA,” Williams said Thursday. “Then I was like, ‘Oh, well this is really cool.’ And then you would walk into the gym and see USA everywhere. That was really cool.”
Things got even cooler a few days later when Team USA, coached by Michigan State’s Suzy Merchant, selected her for the final 12-woman roster.
Now the Topeka native is headed to the Pan American Games on Aug. 6 to try and win a medal with a star-studded roster that features some of the nation’s best college players.
“This is a big accomplishment,” K-State women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie said. “This is an All-American type team. There are first-round draft picks on this team. This is a very talented team.”
Williams is the second K-State player to play for Team USA in the Pan American Games.
The tournament will give her a hectic summer that includes two trips to South America. She is also headed to Brazil with the K-State volleyball team on a foreign tour that begins on Wednesday.
“It will be busy,” Williams said. “But people tell me, ‘This is a very short time in your life and you only get to experience it for four years.’ So I’m just going to keep going and hopefully make it last a little longer.”
Williams made the Pan Am team by putting together a string of strong days at tryouts last week. But she also proved herself as a junior at K-State by averaging 15.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on her way to first team All-Big 12 honors.
Her coaches weren’t shocked she made the final roster.
“Her ability to shoot the ball and make shots is critical in the international game as you widen the lane and talk about the short shot clock,” Mittie said. “Her ability to do all that makes her a pretty good fit.”
Good enough to earn her a trip to Peru this summer.
Williams may not have thought much about playing for her country at this time last month, but now she wears Team USA gear everywhere she goes.