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In ceremony at Arkansas high school, No. 1-ranked women's basketball recruit chooses UConn

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Photographs by John Sykes Jr.

Central Arkansas Christian standout Christyn Williams signed to play basketball Friday with the University of Connecticut.

Christyn Williams' ability to keep a secret may not rival her basketball abilities, but for three weeks the country's No. 1-ranked recruit was able to keep tight-lipped about her college choice.

The secret is out: Williams signed with the University of Connecticut on Friday.

Williams made the announcement with the help of her three senior teammates and a 2-year-old husky named Akino, who all emerged from behind a large screen in front of a large contingent of students at the Central Arkansas Christian gymnasium.

Jenna Davis, Kelson Miller and Alexa Mashburn all wore blue UConn sweatshirts. Akino seemed to be pleased to be a part of the festivities, wearing a wide grin and wagging his tail as the girls gave him ample attention.

"She's very good at keeping secrets. She's very trustworthy and reliable," said Davis, who has been a teammate of Williams since the two were in the third grade. "She told me about two weeks ago. I've had a hard time not telling anyone. It's such a big thing."

"They are my best friends," Williams said. "I knew they wouldn't tell anybody."

Williams whittled her final two choices to UConn, winners of 11 NCAA championships since 1995, and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, the defending national champions. Williams said she made up her mind three weeks ago but disclosed that information to as few people as possible.

"It was pretty tough," Williams said. "The closer it got to today, the harder it got to not slip up."

While her senior teammates had known of her plans for a couple of weeks, CAC Coach Steve Quattlebaum did not know until Friday's official announcement.

"I didn't want to know," Quattlebaum said. "She was trying to keep it a secret, so I didn't want to bug her much about it."

Williams said her teammates came up with the idea to bring a husky to the signing. Akino was on loan from Nate Albertson, a senior member of the CAC boys basketball team.

"When we asked [Albertson] about bringing the dog, we told him we were bringing a chicken, too," Williams said. "So he had no idea. We tricked him, basically.

"I don't know where we would have gotten a chicken. We just made that up."

Williams has been a factor for the Lady Mustangs since her first high school game. She scored 34 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in her freshman debut.

In 102 games with CAC, Williams has averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds. In 47 of those games, Williams has scored 10 or more points and grabbed 10 or more rebounds.

She has scored 20 or more points in 83 games, 30 or more points in 33 games and has scored 40 or more points six times. Williams scored a career-high 47 points and hit a game-winning three-pointer in a 62-59 victory over Heber Springs on Jan. 12, 2016.

"She's amazing to play with," Davis said. "We've been teammates since we were in the third grade, and while her game has changed, her personality hasn't. She remains humble.

"She's always unselfish with the ball and always includes us in the game. It's never just about her. It's all about the team."

Williams is a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year winner from Arkansas, and she was named ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the nation last spring. She has traveled the country and the globe the past two years to showcase her talents.

Williams said she wants to become "legendary" at UConn.

In her acceptance phone call to UConn Coach Geno Auriemma, Williams said she had "some bad news" for the coach.

"You're going to have to put up with me for the next four years," Williams said.

"When you get a call like that from one of the best players in the country, it makes you feel like you're on the right track," Auriemma told ESPN. "I think we're getting the right kind of kids."

Flanked by her parents (from left) Sherman and Cheryl Williams, Christyn Williams of Central Arkansas Christian holds up a folder revealing her colleg...

Sports on 11/11/2017

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