Former Baker star Jayven Williams was a rare commodity for the Hornets during the 2021-2022 school year.
Not only was he a three-sport athlete, but he was an “elite” three-sport athlete, according to Baker baseball coach Tyler Minto.
“We have a lot of athletes in the Mobile area,” Minto said. “We always have. But to do it at the level Jayven did it for us was really unheard of. He was never home. He was always working. It was just a non-stop grind. But, for him, that is what he excels at the most – staying in it, staying involved.”
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Williams played football, basketball and baseball for the Hornets, leading all three to the playoffs as a senior. He was an All-State selection in each sport – only the seventh player in the history of the Alabama Sports Writers Association to earn that distinction.
As a result, he was an easy choice as the Edward Jones AL.com Coastal Alabama Male Athlete of the Year for 2021-2022.
“He’s an alien,” Minto joked. “He’s incredibly gifted. I can’t say enough about him. Personality wise, he is a guy that you would be happy to have as your son. On the playing field – whatever sport it may be – he never stops. He’s an absolute competitor. That is what makes him who he is. He is willing to go toe-to-toe with a lot of people in a lot of different venues, and he does it successfully.”
Williams signed to play football and baseball at Kennesaw State. Baker basketball coach David Armstrong said he could have easily played college basketball somewhere that had been the sport of his choosing.
Minto admits playing two sports will be tough on the college level, but he said Williams is up to the challenge.
“It’s going to be hard,” Minto said. “I sat down with Jayven in the fall and went over it. But he was adamant that he wanted to compete at anything he could at the next level, and that mindset along can lead to success.”
Williams (6-1, 180) was a second-team Class 7A All-State selection while playing wide receiver and defensive back in football as a senior. He caught 34 passes for 728 yards and 10 TDs. He returned an interception and a punt for a touchdown.
“He was great for us,” Baker football coach Steve Normand said. “Obviously, athletically he is very gifted to be able to play three sports and excel in them all. But, in my mind, the best thing about Jayven Williams was the presence he had in the lockerroom and on the field on Friday nights.
“He had the ability to come in and have others feed off his confidence and ability. He had that calming presence that no matter what the situation was we were going to be OK, we were going to win, we were going to be fine. He lifted everyone else to a different level.”
He helped the Hornets to a 7-4 finish. After a first-round playoff loss at Auburn, Williams immediately reported to David Armstrong’s basketball team.
“I don’t know anyone who can walk into practice for one sport immediately after finishing another sport and be as good as Jayven could be,” Armstrong said. “I think he scored 20 points in his first basketball game this year after only practicing two days. That is not normal. This year in baseball, they struggled a little early and, when Jayven got there, they started winning. He’s a winner. He’s a competitor.”
Williams was a third-team All-State basketball selection for a team that went 31-4 and reached the Class 7A final four. He averaged 16.2 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while playing alongside one of the highest scorers in the state in Labaron Philon.
“People don’t realize how much better Jayven made Labaron just by being on the floor as a second option,” Armstrong said. “Jayven would have been a No. 1 guard on pretty much every team in the state except for our team, and he still excelled and understood what he needed to do. We are having a tough time this summer trying to figure out how we will replace him next year.”
In baseball, Williams helped Minto’s team to the second round of the Class 7A playoffs where they lost to eventual state champ Central-Phenix City. The outfielder hit .426 with 26 RBIs and 24 runs scored and was a first-team All-State selection in that sport.
“Jayven could easily be a Major League draft guy,” Minto said. “He has that dynamic of speed to go with a left-handed bat. He’s very tough to strike out. He sticks to his approach well. He’s not trying to get up there and do too much. You never see him trying to do things out of the realm of his capability.
“I think that is actually why he succeeds in every sport. He’s not trying to outkick the coverage, so to speak. He’s good at staying disciplined. He knows what he is good at, and he sticks to it. The guys that do that in any sport are tough.”
RECENT COASTAL MALE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
2022 — Jayven Williams, Baker
2021 — Riley Leonard, Fairhope
2020 – Riley Leonard, Fairhope
2019 — Jermaine Brown, St. Luke’s
2018 – Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian
2017 — Bubba Thompson, McGill-Toolen
2016 – Reginald Todd, Blount
2015 — Chandler Rigdon, Chickasaw
2014 — Tre Williams, St. Paul’s
2013 — Tre Williams, St. Paul’s