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Sidwell Friends G Jelani Williams works to earn comparisons to Villanova’s Josh Hart

Jelani Williams helped lead Sidwell Friends to the MAC title game. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

There’s a natural comparison to make between Jelani Williams and Josh Hart. They’re both 6-foot-5 guards, they played for the same high school, the same coach and the same AAU team.

But there’s a big difference between the Sidwell Friends rising senior and the Villanova star. Williams humbly admits it has little to do with talent or skill — and everything to do with motor.

An offensive rebound here. A dive to the floor there. Those are the plays that made Hart the player he is, whether in Northwest Washington, southeast Pennsylvania, or at the Final Four in Houston. And those are the plays that Williams said he needs to make to take his game to the next level.

The comparison is “something I can’t really get away from, but it’s pushing me,” said Williams, who keeps in touch with the Sidwell alumnus and cheered him on during Villanova’s title run. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a basketball player with the same motor as Josh.”

Williams made plenty of progress in that area this winter, guiding the Quakers to the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference final where they fell to St. James. The Sidwell point guard was more aggressive as the season went on and filled up box scores, averaging 16.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals. He did all that while having his most efficient season, shooting 60 percent on field goals, taking six free throws per game and averaging 1.6 points per shot.

“At first [the aggressiveness] was something I had to think about or really focus on. . . . That was something I had to concentrate on,” Williams said. “Toward the end of the season, I think it was more of a reaction to where, from start of finish I was trying to do everything I could.”  

If he wasn’t already on the radar of recruiters, this past season put him there. Within the last week he has received offers from Boston University and Loyola. Those are the latest schools in a growing list that includes James Madison, Colgate, Delaware, Old Dominion, Hofstra and Penn. Williams, who is recovering from a left wrist injury, said he expects to get the cast removed next week and return to the court in May.


The year of the Sherwood girls’ lacrosse team’s most recent Montgomery County loss. The Warriors extended their streak with a 14-7 win over Damascus.



The Sherwood girls’ lacrosse team doubled up Damascus on senior night to stay unbeaten against Montgomery County competition.



Whitman baseball hosts Sherwood tonight in a pivotal Montgomery County baseball matchup. Follow Brandon Parker (@brandoncparker) for updates, and check for all the latest spring sports coverage.