Tennessee forward Grant Williams will forgo his senior season and remain in the upcoming NBA Draft, the two-time SEC Player of the Year announced in an interview with Stadium on Friday.
The Charlotte, North Carolina native averaged 18.8 points and 7.0 rebounds during his junior seasons with the Vols and is projected by many to be a first round pick.
“My decision is that I’m going to stay in the NBA Draft after receiving this feedback from NBA teams,” Williams said. “From what I’m hearing, I feel confident in myself and my game as well as what I’m hearing from teams. I’m excited to take this next step in my journey.”
A three-star recruit hailing from Providence Day School, Williams quickly blossomed into one of Tennessee’s most dangerous weapons, garnering All-SEC Freshman honors following his debut season.
That would quickly translate to additional success, as the Vols would compile eclipse 25 wins for two consecutive seasons, culminating in a Sweet 16 appearance in this past year’s NCAA Tournament.
Williams, who compiled consecutive All-SEC First Team selections in that span, thanked Tennessee fans as he spoke with Stadium’s Shams Charania.
“To Vol fans, honestly I just want to thank you. There’s not much more I can say,” Williams said. “You guys have been there for me, you’ve been amazing to me.”
Projected as a late-first round pick, Williams joined fellow Vols Jordan Bone and Admiral Schofield at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
As a duo, Schofield and Williams combined to make one of college basketball’s more interesting tandems, with Bone making tremendous strides in his overall game as well. By the end of the season, many analysts labeled him as one of the better point guards in the country
Williams, who impressed NBA scouts with his leadership and intangibles the moment he stepped on the court, also thanked his teammates and coaching staff as he looked toward the future.
“It’s been a great three years, it’s been a process,” Williams said. “I want to thank my teammates, my coaches, as well as you all (the fans).”
Despite being granted the opportunity to chase his childhood dream, the choice did not come easy. When asked how difficult it was to leave Tennessee, Williams did not mince words.
“I was torn by it because leaving the university that I really love and had a great three years at, it was difficult,” Williams said. “Especially with an opportunity to add to the legacy that I had there but for myself, I just knew this was the time.”
The Vols will be tasked with a major void to fill in Williams’ absence. For the first time in two seasons, Tennessee will be without a go-to scorer down the stretch.
With Derrick Walker now in Nebraska and Kyle Alexander gone, UT will be forced to lean on the likes of John Fulkerson and D.J. Burns moving forward.
The collegiate chapter of his career now behind him, Williams is looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
“I did so many great things there and had some great teammates, but I feel like I’m prepared and ready to go.”