Columbia, SC–For some, Roberta Williams’ induction into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame symbolizes a culmination of a brilliant basketball career both professionally and at South Carolina State University.
Williams, however, sees the achievement as a start of something bigger. A vehicle to achieve something larger than herself. An opportunity to help move the women’s game forward.
“What it does is it gives me a platform to continue to campaign and fight for women’s basketball,” Williams said Monday before her induction ceremony at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
“And anything I can do to make a difference along with coach Dawn Staley and a lot of the wonderful things at are happening for women’s college basketball and on the high school level I’m willing to do. I’m willing to make a difference as a shoulder that they can stand upon.”
A first for South Carolina State
The Charleston native was the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship at SC State in 1976. She finished her four-year career with over 2000 points, an astounding 121-13 record and an AIAW National Division II Championship in 1979. She was named tournament MVP that year as well and went on to becoming the only SCSU basketball player to have their jersey retired.
Monday night in front of family and friends, Williams was able to receive her Hall of Fame jacket as a 2020 inductee and gave a speech thanking the many people that helped make her success possible.
She joked that one of her nephews had even labeled her the G.O.A.T.
As her name is thrown in the Greatest of All Time discussions, one thing is undeniable; her place in women’s basketball history as a pioneer of the game.
Williams was a second-round pick by the San Francisco Pioneers, a member of the Women’s Basketball League (WBL) which was the first professional league in existence for female basketball players.
She said one part of moving the game forward is for people to learn the history of those who came before them and continue building upon that, especially when it comes to HBCU basketball.
“We went to Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota and played all the Division I schools and ended up beating University of Dayton in the finals and won the Nationals,” she said. “But it’s not really talked about. Dawn Staley, like I’m saying I’m not downplaying what she’s built there. I have much respect for what she had done for the University of South Carolina, but you very seldom hear about South Carolina State women’s basketball team winning the AIAW national championship game in 1979 and Roberta Williams being Most Valuable Player.