The Seattle Storm roster is among the best of the best in the WNBA. Sue Bird, Jewel Loydand Breanna Stewart, the “big three” of Seattle, have dominated the league for several years. After adding the caption Tina Charles, Stewart puts it simply: “It’s hard for people to protect us. Look at our roster, it’s a lot of greatness in this team.
But a key element of Storm roster greatness is the player who does it all: Gaby Williams.
After a highly successful college career at UConn, Williams was drafted fourth overall by the Chicago Sky in the 2018 draft. In her 3 seasons with the Sky, she averaged 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. During the 2021-22 WNBA offseason, Williams was traded to Seattle by the Los Angeles Sparks, for whom she never played due to overseas commitments.
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Ironically, much of Williams’ growth throughout his WNBA career has come from his time playing outside of the WNBA. She spent 2 years playing in Hungary with Sopron Basket alongside current teammate Storm Brian January. Together they led Sopron to win the 2022 EuroLeague Championship and Williams was named EuroLeague Final Four MVP after scoring 17 points in the final, 14 points in the semi-finals and a career-high 32 points in quarterfinal.
So what worked so well for Gabby overseas? “I think it gave me the opportunity to play what I think is my true position,” Williams said. “In Chicago, I was tossed between point guard and forward and never got to prove myself as a true winger. So I think overseas I just gained that confidence with the ball in my hands, with my shooting, with my facilitation, all of those things came with getting those overseas reps.
Another aspect of this confidence boost for Gabby is her support system, which extends across the world. Williams is bilingual and has dual citizenship from her mother’s home country of France. Although she was born and raised in the United States, Gabby’s French heritage is an integral part of her identity. “Prosecute [Bird] it’s like, ‘you’re not even American to me, you’re French’ and I’m like, I’m just both! said Williams.
Williams’ French heritage allowed her to represent France at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, where she won a bronze medal with the French women’s basketball team, Équipe de France. Throughout the Olympics, the support of her family in France and the French supporters sustained her.
“In France, being part of the national team is really something special,” said Williams, “It’s so cool to see the passion of the French fans. Even if they don’t like basketball, they admire always the athletes of their national team.
This unwavering support from French supporters did not stop after the Olympics. The French WNBA fanbase is on the rise after Marine Johannes and Iliana Ruperttwo of Gabby’s French teammates, have recently joined Williams in the league.
“Seeing the rise of French basketball and seeing Marine and Iliana in the W is so cool,” Gabby said, “The three of us are very close, so it’s good. We always check on each other, we talk every day. Besides being really good friends, I’m just a fan of both of them. I watch their highlights and stuff. I love seeing them in the league.
As well as being encouraged by her family, French fans and her French teammates, she has even more support in her new home of Seattle. Williams’ younger sister, Jayda Noble, is a student at nearby Washington University and plays for the women’s basketball team. You can find her and her UW teammates cheering on Gabby in the stands at Climate Pledge Arena almost every game. Gabby described the intrinsic friendship she has with Jayda: “It’s so much fun. My sister accompanies me everywhere. She’s like my little friend. She’s not traveling or anything right now, so I can text her when and she’ll be there. She even looks my cat while I’m gone it’s so cool.
Williams also has that built-in friendship with his Storm teammates.
“Gabby is amazing. I don’t think she realizes how amazing she can be. Jewel Loyd said: “She is like one of my favorite players. She teaches me French, we watch Avatar together, we bond a lot. She’s just the best. (Gabby, hearing this while walking past Jewell, jokingly replied, “Oh stop that!”).
All that support took Williams’ game to the next level. As a Storm starter, Williams is averaging the highest minutes of her career (25.2 per game) and those minutes have a huge impact on the pitch. She is averaging 5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 0.4 blocks per game, all of which are the highest of her career.
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When asked what part of her game Gabby was most proud of this season, she replied, “I’m really proud of the role of facilitator I’ve played on this team. Every time I touch the ball, even if it’s not scoring, I’m creating for others. I draw defense, I do something, and that’s where I learned that I can be really good for this team. Everyone helps me and I know exactly what the team expects of me in every game.
Storm Head Coach Noelle Quinn and Gabby’s Seattle teammates often talk about how important his defense is to the Storm’s success and how it often goes unnoticed by fans, but never by his teammates.
“The thing with Gabby is her defense. She always has the toughest game when it comes to guarding the opposing team and she never has her head down. She believes in herself and that helps us a lot.
Tina CharlesGabby Storm’s new teammate and alumnus of UConn said: “I think the time she spent last year with the France team and the confidence with which she came back to this league is great. “
Loyd also had nothing but good things to say about Williams’ impact on this Seattle team. “That’s what we envisioned as Gabby playing all season. Now she’s starting to see it, she’s aggressive, and that’s what we need her to have,” she said.
Now that the Storm are more than halfway through the WNBA season, Gabby is looking towards the end of the season and how she can continue to impact this Seattle team.
“I would like to be more effective shooting,” Williams said, “I think a lot of it is mental. I just want to be more comfortable and confident because I think that will open things up for us. But I just want to keep creating for others and creating for myself when needed.
Much of the attention on Friday, when the Storm take on the Mercury, will be focused on the final scheduled match between Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. But be sure to keep an eye out for Williams, whose play is as critical as anyone on the floor for Seattle.