HoriZone Roundtable Interview: Macee Williams

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I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with IUPUI living legend Macee Williams on Friday, and she ran down all things Jags for us, including the team’s offseason additions after a COVID-affected 2020-21, IUPUI’s quest to finally play in (and not just win a bid to) the NCAA Tournament, and the team’s veterans’ decision to run it back for one last season. She also got into her experiences with NIL and even humored my question about her lofty place in the history of the Horizon League.


HoriZone Roundtable: Joining me today is someone who really doesn’t need an introduction anywhere in Horizon League women’s basketball, so let’s just get to it. She’s a three-time conference player of the year, she’s quite possibly the conference GOAT, she’s IUPUI’s Macee Williams. Macee, thanks for doing this. How are you today?

Macee Williams: Thank you. Thanks for having me and I am doing well. Thank you.

HZ: So you’re basically coming straight out of practice, right?

MW: Yes, I am.

HZ: How’s preseason been going for you guys?

MW: Practice has been fun. We have quite a few freshmen, a couple new transfers, so it’s just for them, it’s a new process. So just coming in to practice each day with good energy, just being the best leader I can on the court and off the court and just helping the newbies out, and stuff like that. It’s been going pretty well.

HZ: Now I called you the Horizon League’s possible GOAT a minute ago. Obviously you’re doing some unprecedented things in the conference. I don’t think it’s a huge spoiler to say that you’re going to be our consensus preseason player of the year yet again. I know you have the rest of your life to think about this stuff and it’s not really in the athlete’s mindset to do things like that, but are you at all aware of like the lofty place you occupy in the history of the Horizon League?

MW: I mean…Coach [Austin Parkinson], we talk about it here and there. It’s a big deal, but I don’t really like to focus on all that stuff because I feel like just personally myself, I’m more of a team player and I’d rather get the bigger goal at the end than the player of the year, but just having all the hype from the whole team and Coach P, I don’t like getting that to my head, but I kind of know what I’m capable of.

HZ: Right. Fair enough. I didn’t expect you to say, “Yep, I’m the best player ever!” Let’s go back to last year for a second, obviously a weird year for everyone. It seemed like you guys were affected by the pandemic more than most, you actually had the best winning percentage in the league, but instead of being the regular season champs, you were the fifth seed, that weird formula that they had going on that punished the cancellations and everything. Is that something that motivates you going forward or you just want to be like everyone else and forget last year ever happened?

MW: Like for everyone last year was just a crazy time, but it is a little bit of motivation for us. Just we know what we’re capable of and as a team, and the coaches we harp on doing all the correct stuff. Like I said, we know what we’re capable of and we can get there once again. It’s just coming in today, in practice every day. It starts there, just making sure we do the right stuff and stuff like that.

HZ: Cool. You mentioned some of the newcomers a minute ago. You have that great team and you’re all just like, “Okay, let’s bring everyone back and for fun, we’ll add a Big 12 rotation player, Madison Wise. You have another nice looking transfer, Rachel Kent from Saint Louis. How’s the process been of working them into what’s already a pretty well-established machine you guys have going there?

MW: They’ve been doing really well, they already have experience in the college basketball world, so it’s just kind of nice. They know what it takes to be a championship team, so for them, I’m sure their brain is going so fast trying to remember all of the plays and all the defensive stuff and just coming from a different school. But they have been doing really well. I mean, they’re great. They’re a great group of girls and they’re really nice and sweet and both of them are just super good. So it’s nice to have two new aspects to our team. They know what they’re capable of and it’s nice to have two new girls like that. One is, she’s a lights-out shooter and the other one just does about anything, so it’s nice.

HZ: Any the freshmen you want to hype up? I mean, we don’t really get to hear about these guys until they actually step on the floor in a college game. And when we see some of the scouting reports and things like that, but don’t really know a ton about them. So who’s looking good for your freshman there?

MW: They’re all looking really well. I know it’s it’s a huge transition coming from high school to college, but I they’ve been doing really well in practice too. They’re going to mess up. It’s just knowing that if you mess up, you have to keep playing forward. We have Jacquel [Bronaugh], she’s a five and she’s really strong down in the post. Once she figures out her own body, she’s going to be really good. We’ve got Logan [Lewis], she’s a really good driver, a shooter and then Tyra [Ford], she’s a good shooter too. It’s just nice to know we have those three and then we also have Nakaih [Hunter], she will be a four and she’s pretty nice too. All of them are all solid players and it’s just nice to know they’re going to be good assets to the team once they get that experience. And once they figure out IUPUI, what we do.

HZ: Jacquel is from Dayton there, you got her away from the Wright State, eh?

MW: …yeah.

HZ: Another addition you guys had came on the coaching staff with Holly Hoopingarner, love that name so much, by the way. She came back from Florida. Is it at least a little weird to have someone you were playing with literally just two years ago now as one of your coaches?

MW: We kind of talked about it. It was a little weird in the beginning. It’s like I played with her, but she has such a good relationship with everyone on the team. And she was so good her senior year, just being the leadership. She was basically a coach when she was a senior. So it’s just nice to know, she knows what we go through, what we went through to get to that championship level. And she knows Coach P’s rules. She helps all of us in the defense and she’s a point guard herself. So she helps Dez, Trinity, JC and all the other point guards on the team. It was a little weird in the beginning, but it’s good for us.

HZ: Right. I think she was a smart player, right? She has that relatability while still adding something there on the staff.

MW: Yes.

HZ: Shifting gears for a second, you guys took some absolutely huge swings in your non-conference schedule, so did Milwaukee. I think it’s really kind of nice for the league when the top teams are the ones taking those shots, but really how excited are you to show what you have against the likes of Naz Hillmon and Caitlin Clark? Not to mention those great teams that they play on?

MW: Yeah, I’m excited. The whole team’s excited. IUPUI is a mid-major, so it’s kind of nice to know we can keep up with all of the bigger schools. I mean, we’re excited.

HZ: I’m definitely going to be clearing my schedule. I know Milwaukee has Florida State and Wisconsin I think. I think one of you guys are going to chip off one of those games. I feel good about that.

MW: Yeah, I mean, we’re all excited.

HZ: Now one thing that a lot of people wanted me to ask is, you signed on with Barstool Athletes once the NIL stuff opened up over the summer. I think most of us are seeing tons and tons of college athletes doing that. And we’re all kind of like, “What does that even mean?” So give us an idea what all is involved with Barstool?

MW: I know with Barstool, I think all you really get is just free gear. But I signed up with, what is it? Liquid IV. And pretty much you just get the free liquid IV powder stuff to put in your drinks, but you just promote their brand and they give you like a discount name, like they give you your own discount. So you can send it out to other people and you can get I think it’s like 10 percent from if they use your discount code. So it’s kind of just nice being able to use your name, but you also help out the brand.

HZ: Right. Is that exposure maybe led to additional NIL stuff? Is there anything in the works you’re able to tell us about right now? I know our staff love supporting everyone’s NIL projects and things like that.

MW: Yeah. It kind of just opened up a new area. I’m learning stuff every day. With the NIL stuff itself, yeah it kind of opened up. I think my first one was the [BODYARMOR], and that was my first one. It kind of just opened up a new whole thing, but I still get like the messages on Instagram, like fake accounts. So just to be aware for other athletes, just be aware of the fake accounts, make sure you don’t sign up for something that’s not real and they take your money and your credit card information. It’s a whole process.

HZ: Instagram is just riddled with stuff like that, it’s crazy.

MW: Yeah.

HZ: Now we’ve been talking about IUPUI as one of the top teams in the league for the entire time that you guys have been in the league really. And certainly for your whole career. One thing you haven’t done yet though, is play the NCAA Tournament. Obviously you guys won the [league] title in 2020, and it was canceled of course with the pandemic and everything. How much does it mean you to finally have that chance to play in what I’m actually now allowed to call March Madness on the women’s side?

MW: Yeah! It means a lot. The year we won the championship, it was such a heartbreaker. And then last year, we were so close, so each year it’s just a little motivation and this is my last year, so I definitely want to lay out everything on the line that we’ve got and amp up the newcomers, the people behind us, behind me and the other grades just kind of like, “Hey, this is all we got left.” I know we can get there. We didn’t lose that many aspects to the team, just having a COVID year and just having the same people, but we brought in some new people. We know that we can get there again, it’s just having the effort and coming in each day at a time, ready to go and working on the stuff we need.

HZ: I’m sure you’ve had some offers to play pro if you wanted to go that route, but you and the rest of your teammates chose to run it back instead. Was the tournament part of the motivation for that? Or was it something else?

MW: Yeah, it was kind of the tournament itself. And I want to get to the NCAA Tournament so bad, so I feel like I made up my mind a long time ago. And just because I want to play professional, just because of COVID, I didn’t get to work on a bunch of stuff that I wanted to, to make my WNBA ranking better. So having the fifth year really helped me out.

HZ: Right. Well, if nothing else, I love that we’ll get one more chance to enjoy what should be an absolutely loaded squad down there in Indy this year. Good luck to you guys this season. Definitely looking forward to seeing you in person, obviously against CSU, but I’m already trying to work at least one other trip in there to be honest, I was kind of looking at your schedule. I think I might be able to make up to Oakland but we’ll see. But thanks so much for doing this Macee, we really appreciate it!

MW: Yes, of course! Thank you for having me.

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