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Williams was a Saint Francis anchor

With the recent passing of Sandy Williams in Atlanta, Georgia, Saint Francis University lost one of its most prolific basketball stars.

Although numbers never illustrate the complete picture of an athlete’s contributions, Williams’ leap right off the page.

Williams is one of only a handful of Saint Francis players to compile more than 1500 (1546) points and 750 rebounds (833).

Competing in only three seasons — freshmen weren’t eligible in 1960 — Williams’ career totals are remarkable.

A “Frankie” (Red Flash) Hall of Famer who played from 1961-64, Williams averaged 22.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.

In his senior year, Williams had an amazing scoring average of 27.3 while grabbing rebounds at a 14.8 clip. If official records would have been kept, Williams would also have led his team in steals, blocks and even assists.

In December of 1963, Williams dropped in 42 points vs. Kent State — 24 of those coming from the foul line. He still ranks first in career made free throws at 470 (78%). At one point he converted 40 consecutive foul shots.

He was always in the middle of the action.

Coach Skip Hughes’ Frankies (as they were known before becoming the Red Flash) took on some of the best available competition in the 1960s , including Xavier, Louisville, Notre Dame, Villanova, Duquesne, Wake Forest, etc.

There’s no doubt Williams would have started for all of them and been the best player on many of those teams.

Sandy Williams had the complete package. He could shoot, attack the basket, pass instinctively and accurately, defend, rebound at both ends and run the court.

He was smooth, fluid and efficient while always on balance. Most of all, he was explosive in his movements and off his feet, which produced a spectacular array of steals, blocks and dunks.

Williams had an on-court presence and persona that advertised, “Don’t mess with me,” and few did.

He had that rare athletic synthesis of strength and aggressive play that coexisted with a soft shooting touch. Beyond that, Williams could dominate a game without having to dominate the ball and was always unselfish.

“When Sandy got his hands on the ball, it was his alone,” offered teammate and roommate Gene DeBerardinis.

DeBerardinis was often the appreciative recipient of a Williams’ bullet-like, “thread the needle” pass. At 62%, DeBerardinis was one of the nation’s leaders in field goal percentage in 1963-64.

Personifying unique greatness, Williams was an inspirational, quiet leader who brought out the best in his teammates. When he directed his comments to any of us, he had our undivided attention. From day one, it was obvious he was not like the “rest of us.”

Along with Frankie great Norm Van Lier, Williams may have been the mentally toughest player in the school’s storied tradition. A dedicated athlete with a solid work ethic, Williams set the perfect example.

An insightful individual and always a gentleman, Williams consistently made good decisions and was loved and respected across the Saint Francis campus.

For his most special family and to a deserving “Hall of Famer,” thanks for the priceless memories and “Godspeed!”

Don Appleman was Williams’ Saint Francis teammate in the winter of 1964. He was a longtime local basketball coach and was inducted into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

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