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Peyton Williams: To Russia with game

  • September 20, 2020

Former Cair Paravel Latin and Kansas State multi-sport star Peyton Williams’ news that she is headed to Moscow, Russia, to launch her professional basketball career has been met with some interesting reactions.

After all, the United States has had a very complicated relationship with that country.

But the 6-foot-4 Topekan, who received All-Big 12 recognition in both basketball and volleyball for Kansas State, is ready to see for herself what Russia is all about.

“We have an interesting history with Russia, and I think a lot of people who I tell that I’m going to Moscow, it’s met with a lot of trepidation, I guess is the word,’’ said Williams, who was scheduled to leave Saturday to join SpartaK Vidnoje of the EuroLeague. “But I think I’m just really interested to learn about Russia from Russia and also just to go somewhere that we may have these stereotypes about in general.

“I think it’s a great place for me to start as a basketball player, but also as an anthropology major and international studies, all those things that I loved in college.’’

Williams averaged 15.4 points, 11 rebounds and 3.1 assists this past basketball season for the 16-13 Wildcats and ended her career third on K-State’s all-time rebounding list (967), third in career double-doubles (33), fifth in career blocks (119) and ninth in career scoring (1,553 points).

Now she’s ready to take the next step in her career in a country she’s been trying to learn as much as she can about since signing with SpartaK earlier in the summer.

“My dad and I, we’ve been learning the language and we’re watching movies about Russia and getting a book on Russia, so I’m inundated with information about Russia at the moment,’’ Williams said.

“I haven’t honestly been doing too much research on the city of Moscow because I know that when I get there I’m going to be quarantined, so I will be looking for things to do and I figure I can do a lot once I get over there.’’

Williams is joining a franchise that has won four EuroLeague titles in its history.

“Certainly the EuroLeague is where you want to be in European basketball and SpartaK has a lot of good history,’’ Williams said. “It’s been a while since they had their last championship. They’ve had some young teams in the past and this team is no different.

“But I think young teams have a lot of fire and I’m excited to see what they’re like when I get there. It will be interesting because they are so young it’s going to feel a little similar to college for me, I think.’’

One of Agnew’s teammates in Russia will be fellow American Jaylyn Agnew, a former Creighton star who has played for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA this season.

“She’s also from Kansas (Andover), so it’s a small world,’’ said Williams, who played for the USA in the 2019 Pan American Games.

Williams has been doing her best to stay in shape since completing her senior season at Kansas State, but is eager to join her new team.

“I’ve always been such a team-sport person, so trying to do all that stuff by myself is a lot more difficult, at least for me,’’ she said. “I admire the individual-sport people for their discipline and their dedication.

“It’s been so much harder for me to condition by myself and I’m looking forward to be on the court with more people and the elements of team basketball. Cooperation and all of that stuff is why I love the game, so I’m so excited to get back to that.’’

Williams knows there’s going to be a lot of emotions involved with re-locating in a new country and getting to know her new team and city, but she said she’s ready for that journey.

“It’s mainly excitement at this point,’’ said Williams, who will begin her rookie season in October. “It’s been awhile. I signed back in July, so it’s been a couple of months just kind of sitting and twiddling my thumbs while training as much as I can.

“Of course there’s the nerves and I think the day of will be different when I get on the plane, but I’m mostly excited to just have a change of pace and do something different.’’

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