San Diego is not known as a hotbed for hoops but that could be changing.
San Ysidro’s Mikey Williams, 13, is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the Class of 2023.
“It just feels good knowing that your name is buzzing and everybody is talking about my name,” Williams said.
The Naismith National Youth All-American Report is one of a handful of recruiting rankings that have Williams No. 1 in the nation.
“He’s unbelievable! He is top notch,” said Sade Wiley-Gatewood, a former NCAA Division I player, coaches and mentors Williams. “He’s one of best players I’ve seen so far.”
Penetration is a strength of Williams’ game, but really his overall skills have elevated him to the No. 1 rankings. Williams recently ascended to the top spot and said his rise up the rankings was not an accident.
“Whoever was number one had a target on their back, I just worked and worked until I got to that spot, but I got to keep working,” he said.
Williams is dandy with the dribble, smooth with the jumper and can even rock the rim. It’s not unusual for this 13-year-old hoopster to dunk during games.
“Dunking is cool but you gotta have that all-around game, you can’t just be one dimensional,” he said.
Williams plays for a travel team called the Malcolm Thomas All-Stars. As a member of one of the nation’s best teams, Williams travels all around the U.S. playing against other nationally ranked players. One player he’s faced is Lebron James Jr., the son of NBA star.
The elder James is among several NBA players that have reached to Williams out to give advice and encouragement.
So how far can Williams take this?
“I think he can go very far,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “I believe he can be one of greatest players that ever lived.”
For Williams, basketball is a family affair. His mom, Charisse, put a basketball in his hand when he was 11 months old and his dad, Mahlon, helps coach and mentors his son. Mahlon Williams says the Williams family works together to help Mikey achieve his goals and stay grounded with so much hoops hype swirling.
“We work on staying humble. It feels good to be ranked No. 1 because we know the work he put in, but like any other parent your kid can be great in many areas, some kids are great at math, he just happens to be good at basketball and we support that,” he said. “We support that the same way if you’re an artist, your parents are going to support that and put you with best art teachers. We put Mikey with the best trainers and make sure he’s on the best teams and tournaments. We just push that, and at end of the day we are doing it for college, anything after is a plus, but college is what we’re trying to do it for.”
College recruiting has already started, but first comes high school, or at least in a little over 12 months. If you’re wondering, Mikey plans on attending San Ysidro High School.