Both sophomore forward Grant Williams and head basketball coach Rick Barnes picked up several accolades and awards during the season for Tennessee this year. And now that the season is over, they continue to add more honors to their collection.
Yesterday, Grant Williams was named the Male Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He was the first Tennessee men’s basketball player to earn that distinction since Ernie Grunfeld was given that title in 1977. UT athletes have now won that award three consecutive years thanks to Williams. Track athlete Christian Coleman won the award last year and split it in 2016. UT athletes have won the award 21 times now after Williams was given the award.
But the awards didn’t stop there. Williams’ head coach also was given another distinction this week.
It was announced today that Rick Barnes was named the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year. Barnes just completed his third season as the Vols’ head basketball coach, and his team showed massive improvement from last year. The Vols went from 16-16 and near the bottom of the SEC last season to 26-9 overall this season and winning a share of the SEC regular season title. Tennessee also made it to the SEC Tournament Finals and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Vols’ 26 wins were the third-most in a single season in program history.
For Williams, his award from the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is just one of many honors he received this season. He was also named the SEC Player of the Year and was a first-team All-SEC selection. Williams was also voted as an All-American honorable mention.
Barnes also picked up several accolades this year. His distinction from the TSWA goes along with his SEC Coach of the Year awards he earned from both the AP and Coaches voting. He was also voted as the US Basketball Writers Association District IV Coach of the Year. He was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year as well.