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Korean Basketball’s ‘Queen Mother’

Posted December. 29, 2005 03:01,   


Taj McWilliams is known as the “Queen Mother” of Korean women’s basketball.

It`s not just because she’s a mother of two who stands 188cm tall, and weighs 84kg, it’s also because of the size of her heart.

Shinhan Bank center McWilliams (35), the oldest player in Korean women’s basketball, is leading the league, averaging 32 points per game and 19.3 rebounds per game.

If she keeps up that pace, she will break records in both categories. Current record holders Jeong Seon-min scored 30 points per game in 1998, and Adrian Williams grabbed 16.4 rebounds per game in the 2005 summer league.

McWilliams, rated as one of the league’s best foreign national players at the start of the year, has outstanding passing skills as well. When opposing team focuses on her under the basket, she passes the ball outside to teammates for open three-point shots.

Coach Yi Yeong-ju of Shinhan Bank looked happy as he said, “I was worried about her slow moves at first, but those worries were unfounded. She has no weaknesses.”

McWilliams dominates on the court, but she is a wife and mother off of it. She takes care of her husband and two daughters, who arrived in Korea on December 19, by pitching in with the groceries, cooking, and cleaning in her apartment in Ansan City, Gyeonggi-do Province.

Her husband is a U.S. Army sergeant who is regularly stationed in Italy. McWilliams met him in 1999 when she was playing in the Italian basketball league. The two got married the next year. Coincidentally, her anniversary is on the same day as Jeon Ju-won’s, her Shinhan Bank teammate. The two couples threw a joint anniversary party at Osan U.S. Army Camp, and both families had turkey dinner together on Christmas day.

McWilliams surprised the team’s younger players and managers by handing out Christmas presents to all of them.

McWilliams has been living the life of a hired basketball player overseas. Her resume includes many countries such as Italy, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Turkey.

These days, however, she is worried about her husband’s scheduled deployment to Iraq next year. Those worries make her days spent with her family in Korea all the more precious.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com