Sneakers, sneakers, sneakers.
It's a constant topic for LaDazhia Williams and her mother, Chantel Griffin.
"When we go to the mall, I refuse to go to Champs or Foot Locker. She is always shopping for basketball sneakers," Griffin said.
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"It's what I like to do best," Williams counters.
Her thing for sneakers might be the only weakness Williams has on the basketball court, which is why the 6-foot-4 Lakewood Ranch sophomore is the Herald All-Area Girls Basketball Player of The Year.
Williams averaged a double-double for the season (19.8 points/10.2 rebounds). She also eclipsed the 40/200 mark, buying more than 40 pairs of sneakers in the last year to give her 200-plus. The last sneakers mom bought for her was a pair of Kobe Bryants that cost in the $250 range.
"She talked me into it because they are high tops, and she said they would help her ankles," mom said. "They are orange and green and come up above her ankle. I bought them for her before she went to an exposure camp in North Carolina. She is a good daughter. Her only vice is sneakers."
Just as she exudes confidence on the court, Williams apparently feels she will eventually win the battle of wills and mom will get her another pair of basketball sneakers.
"She does well in school and those sneakers are a reward, but I tell her all the time she has to get a job or we are going to have to sell some of those sneakers," Griffin said. "It's been this way since sixth grade, when she first started playing basketball."
Williams stuck with a pair of green hyper dunks during the high school season. During travel ball and practices, she switches up regularly. Her favorite sneaker was a pair of rainbow LeBron James that she wore to practice and travel ball games.
"I liked the color and they are comfortable, and he is my favorite NBA player," she says.
They were her favorites until perhaps she saw those Kobe Bryants, but she is not saying which is most dear to her heart.
"I like to switch it up. My mom says I have enough, but I just get more," Williams said. "Sometimes I try to wear a pair that fits my uniform, but how comfortable I feel is important."
Big-time college coaches who have been visiting the Lakewood Ranch campus are coming to see Williams rather than her basketball shoes.
Lakewood Ranch head coach Tina Hadley played on Southeast's first state girls basketball championship team under current head coach John Harder in 1985 with superstar Chountelle Bullock, who averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds.
"She is already better than Chountelle was as a senior," Hadley said. "College coaches love LaDazhia's finishing skills because she can absorb the contact and score. Now she can face the basket and score, and they love how she handles the ball. She can run the break and make good passes."
Williams has been offered by nearly every major college program in the country, and those that haven't offered such as Connecticut and Stanford are recruiting her, according to Hadley.
The national notoriety is growing and by the time she is a senior, Williams could be a household name in women's basketball. But she is not impressed with herself.
"It doesn't bother me or affect me," Williams says about all the attention. "Sometimes I like it and sometimes too much attention is bad. I like my privacy."
Williams said she has no idea where she will play in college, but when pressed to pick at top five she mentions Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, South Carolina and Connecticut.
She is 6-4, close to dunking and might grow another inch, according to her doctor. If Williams doesn't reach 6-5, she would be OK with it.
"I think 6-4 is enough. I am happy with that and would prefer not to grow anymore," Williams said. "I can dunk a tennis ball, and I am close to dunking a basketball. I would probably be scared to do it in a game. I don't think about it."
Hadley says all the attention and notoriety has not changed Williams. She is still on the shy side, though she is getting more verbal.
"She is what I define as being young and silly. She doesn't take anything seriously, but works hard on her game," Hadley said. "I told her this college coach called and that one and she doesn't get excited like most kids would. I don't think she realizes how good she really is. Nothing is overwhelming to her and none of this has gone to her head. You give her a workout and she gets in the gym and does it. She will work by herself or with others, whatever it takes," Hadley said.
The only issue for Williams these days appears to be what pair of basketball sneakers to wear, though it doesn't seem to affect her performance.