It is not uncommon for people to assume Dominique and Tori Williams are sisters.
They share the same last name, but they are not related.
They do have quite a bit in common, particularly on the hardwood.
Dominique, a senior, and Tori, a junior, are helping to elevate the caliber of girls basketball in Idaho.
Tori is the 15th-ranked guard in the nation for the 2017 class, according to ESPNW, and has scholarship offers from Oregon State, Utah, Purdue and Washington, among others, she said.
Dominique signed with Weber State in November, turning down offers from Boise State, Washington, Idaho and Seattle, she said.
“They are changing the outlook on basketball in Idaho,” said Centennial coach Cassie Bro, who played at Idaho State and was previously an assistant at Air Force and Barry University. “You talk to so many coaches who are recruiting them, and they are just shocked at the talent that’s in Idaho. It’s opened their eyes, too, as another state to check out.
“Most of the time, you feel like a lot of these kids, they have to play club to even get a look, and now it’s kind of the hotbed. You see coaches fly in, and they’ll jump around to the different high schools (in the Valley).”
The two have played together since the third grade for Hoop Dreams, a club team coached by Dominique’s dad, former Boise State standout Shambric Williams.
“Sham has known me for over half of my life,” Tori said. “He’s like my second dad. I go to him for anything.”
Said Shambric: “I know there’s no relation, but there is just because of how long they’ve been around each other and how long I’ve been around them. It’s family. It is, and it will always be that way. It’s not just basketball. You’re talking about life and having that relationship beyond when high school and college is over.”
Both girls have basketball in their blood.
Tori’s dad, Todd Williams, won an NAIA Division II national title with Albertson College (now the College of Idaho) during the 1995-96 season, and her mother, Kari Smith, was a starting guard when Northwest Nazarene won an NAIA Division II national championship in 1996-97.
“Ever since I was a little girl, my mom was just always playing at the gym on her city league teams,” Tori said. “I’d always have a ball in my hand.”
Added Smith: “I actually played rec ball when she was still in my stomach.”
Dominique’s dad not only played at Boise State, he later served as an assistant coach. Shambric was the 1994 Big Sky Tournament MVP, and his name remains littered throughout the Boise State record book. Dominique’s mom, Tosha Williams (Bailey), was a track and field standout and ranks among the top three all-time at Boise State in the indoor 60-meter hurdles and high jump.
“Probably about going into middle school, I realized that I don’t really like to run, unless it’s toward a hoop,” Dominique joked.
Tori and Dominique landed their first scholarship offers at the same time while making an unofficial visit to Boise State when Dominique was in eighth grade and Tori was in seventh. Each joined Centennial’s varsity program as freshmen, and both began to garner attention on the national recruiting trail in the summer of 2014 while playing for Hoop Dreams.
It’s not about any one of them. They’re having to put things aside. Maybe it’s scoring, maybe it’s rebounds or touches. They are setting that aside for the team. They’ve completely bought in to this is what’s best for the team.
Cassie Bro, Centennial coach on the team-oriented attitude of Dominique and Tori Williams
Alongside Mountain View’s Destiny Slocum, Boise’s Mandy Simpson and Eagle’s Cassidy Tiegs — plus other Valley players who have since graduated — Hoop Dreams won the End of the Trail tournament in Portland, regarded as one of the top AAU club tournaments in the West. A week later, the team traveled to Tennessee for the first time and won the Battle in the Boro, shocking many in the AAU community. The girls finished the 2014 club season No. 2 in the country, according to one poll.
“When we go out of town for tournaments and stuff, people always think Nique and I are related,” Tori said.
Sometimes, they don’t bother correcting people who refer to them as sisters. After all, their skills have grown in unison — and because of each other — and they are now coming to the end of their final season as teammates.
“I tell them all the time as a coach, I don’t want it to end, because it’s rare that you find individuals who really don’t care about scoring titles or points or the individual accolades,” said Shambric, who is also a Centennial assistant. “You’ve got two unselfish (girls) who really believe and focus on the team.
“As a coach, you don’t see that. It’s like a perfect storm, almost, that when you do get players like that and you get a season like we’re having now, you just don’t want it to end.”
Centennial (21-2) is the reigning 5A District Three Tournament champion, and it will try to defend that title against Mountain View (19-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Eagle High. The Mavericks, the defending state champions, are the only Idaho team to beat the Patriots this season.
Both teams are assured a spot in next week’s state tournament in Nampa. The Patriots want to atone for their loss in the opening round last year.
“We are extremely motivated,” Dominique said. “I think we have a better outlook and view on it. ... We know we still have to go out and actually win it. It’s cool making it to state. Yeah, you get a sweatshirt, but nobody remembers a team that got knocked out in the first round.”
Just the statistics