Jackson senior Sylas Williams is The Herald’s 2022-23 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jackson senior Sylas Williams is The Herald’s 2022-23 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Boys Basketball Players of the Year: Sylas Williams

The Jackson forward averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds per game during a dominant senior season.

Jackson boys basketball head coach Steve Johnson can only take partial credit in having the early beat on star forward Sylas Williams.

When Williams was in the third grade, Johnson’s wife, Karen, who taught Williams in grade school, noticed his abilities on the basketball floor and took note. She passed the information along, and the rest took shape over time.

Before long, Williams was playing for the Jackson Wolfpack feeder program in elementary school as he started his ascent towards elite status as the varsity-level focal point over the past few seasons under Johnson.

“She always likes to tell me, ‘You’re welcome,’” Johnson said.

Williams certainly hasn’t disappointed in his playing career for the Timberwolves, racking up over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds across his three varsity years.

As a senior, Williams hung up one monster stat line after another, finishing the year averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds and three assists per game. He was named Co-MVP along with Mariner guard Makai Bloomfield and helped Jackson to a Wesco 4A league title and a 17-6 overall record. For his efforts, Williams is The Herald’s 2022-23 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Jackson’s Sylas Williams posts up with the ball during a game against Mariner on Jan. 3, 2023, at Mariner High School in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jackson’s Sylas Williams posts up with the ball during a game against Mariner on Jan. 3, 2023, at Mariner High School in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Williams was nearly as dominant as a junior, posting 18 points and 14 boards per game as Jackson earned a state regional berth in 2022. He was named to the All-Wesco 4A first-team in back-to-back seasons.

“A really deserving kid in terms of how hard he works and what he’s all about,” Johnson said. “Improvement, player development and being a leader on campus, he has all the kinds of intangibles you love to see.

“Nice kids who work extremely hard and get rewarded for their success. … He certainly fits in that category.”

At 6-foot-7, Williams used tornado-like spin moves and enjoyed feasting in the paint. Using his length to snatch double-digit rebounds almost every outing, he proved to be a nightmare matchup for the opposition over the years. Fitting the mold of a truly position-less player, he had to work on the extras over the years to put himself on a different scale. A five-inch growth spurt also helped.

“He’s added several things to his game every year,” Johnson said. “Mostly a back-to-the-basket guy as a sophomore, then he developed more perimeter skills and a face-up game as a junior, then he was told he’d need to improve his 3-point shot, and he did that tremendously going into his senior year.”

Williams shot 47% from behind the arc as a senior, blossoming into a full do-it-all performer for the Wolves as he was named to the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Class 4A all-senior team along with other high-level state standouts such as Parker Gerrits (Olympia), Tyce Paulsen (Curtis) and Vaughn Weems (Federal Way). He was also named the county’s boys player of the year by the Snohomish County Basketball Officials Association.

Jackson’s Sylas Williams (5) shoots the ball during a game against Lake Stevens on Jan. 31, 2023, at Lake Stevens High School. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Jackson’s Sylas Williams (5) shoots the ball during a game against Lake Stevens on Jan. 31, 2023, at Lake Stevens High School. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

One of Williams’ best performances of the year came in a 42-point, 13-rebound effort in a win over Lake Stevens on Jan. 31. He also went for 29 points and 20 boards in an 82-81 overtime victory Jan. 19 against Mariner, dropping 17 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

His calm and quiet demeanor on the court is constant, but as many of his opponents have learned, it comes with one of the highest motors and competitive drives, all while affecting the game in a variety of ways.

“I’d say versatility is the main thing that comes to mind,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of different ways he can make an impact, that’s part of the reason why he’s been recognized as such an accomplished player and such an effective player.”

Williams stayed in the gym last summer, running with the North City AAU program, which Williams said played a major role in preparation for his high school senior season.

It was a year with no shortage of talent in Wesco 4A, with four players from the league named to The Herald’s All-Area teams. Going against top-quality players on a nightly basis ranked highly on Williams’ list of things he enjoyed this season.

“That’s what made it really fun, knowing there were no easy games off,” Williams said of his league matchups. “At practice, you would have to prepare for that. We had gameplans every time and we had to execute it. With having to do all that, it was never boring.”

The Timberwolves fell short of a state berth, losing to league-rival Mariner in an elimination game at districts. With a run that ended quicker than Williams pictured, he can look back on his overall body of work and keep his head high.

“I think I left my mark,” Williams said. “It wasn’t everything I wanted, but I made a pretty good mark and hopefully my brother (freshman guard Seamus Williams) can finish it.”

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