Vols are Projected to Have Two First-Round Picks

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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    Tennessee hasn’t had two players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft in over 40 years. The last time two Vols were selected in the first round into the NBA was in 1977 when Bernard King was drafted No. 7 overall by the New York Nets and Ernie Grunfeld was picked 11th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.

    One updated NBA mock draft, however, has that streak coming to an end here in another month.

    According to Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports, the Vols could have two players taken in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. In his latest mock draft over the weekend, he has both Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield being selected in the first round of this year’s draft.

    Forgrave predicts that Williams will be selected No. 21 overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he has Schofield being taken with the last pick in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 30th overall selection.

    “Williams is not the most physically gifted player, standing at six-foot-seven without elite athleticism, which explains why he was barely a top-200 recruit coming into college,” Forgrave writes about Williams. “But what he lacks in physical gifts he makes up for in effort, toughness and smarts. His shooting has progressed. He’s the type of guy you want in a locker room – a winner. For a smart, defense-minded team like the Thunder, it’s a good fit.”

    This past season saw Williams vault up NBA Draft boards with a career year in his junior season with Tennessee. The Charlotte, North Carolina native set career-highs in almost every major statistical category, and it resulted in him winning SEC Player of the Year for the second-straight year and earning consensus First-Team All-American honors.

    In his junior campaign, Williams averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.49 blocks per game while shooting 56.5 percent overall, 32.6 percent from three, and 81.9 percent from the free throw line.

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    His teammate, Admiral Schofield, had his breakout moments as a junior during the 2017-18 season. He declared for the 2018 NBA Draft and got feedback from teams and scouts then, but he elected to come back for his senior season and pulled his name out of consideration for the draft.

    It was during his senior season that he really caught the attention of NBA scouts, though.

    “Strong, versatile and a fantastic 3-point shooter, Schofield has a lot of the attributes today’s NBA teams are looking for,” Forgrave said of Schofield. “He’s tough and physical with a 7-1 wingspan, and he can score the ball in a multitude of ways. Schofield would be ready to contribute to a winning team immediately. A shooter who plays defense: Feels like the perfect fit for the Bucks.”

    As a senior, Schofield set career-highs in shooting percentage, three-point shooting, and points per game among other categories. He was voted a First-Team All-SEC performer and an AP All-American honorable mention. Schofield averaged 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists while shooting 47.4 percent overall and 41.8 percent from three.

    Tennessee hasn’t had two players taken in the NBA Draft regardless of round since the 2014 draft. Both Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae were selected in the second round of that year’s draft, with Stokes going 35th overall to the Utah Jazz (later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies) and McRae going 58th overall to the San Antonio Spurs (later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers).

    The Vols had two players taken in the 2002 NBA Draft when Marcus Haislip was drafted 13th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks and Vincent Yarbrough was selected 32nd overall in the second round by the Denver Nuggets. The 1989, 1987, and 1984 drafts also saw two Vols selected into the NBA.

    There are a few important dates coming up that could impact where Williams and Schofield are taken in the NBA Draft. The 2019 NBA Draft lottery will take place in Chicago on Tuesday, May 14th at 8:30 PM Eastern. The results will be televised live on ESPN. The draft order for picks 1-14 will be determined via the lottery. The draft itself is on June 20th.

    After that, the 2019 NBA Draft Combine will take place, and both Williams and Schofield — along with teammate Jordan Bone — will participate at the event. The combine could help both players increase their stock, and it will help both Williams and Bone get valuable feedback to determine whether or not the two want to keep their names in the draft pool or remove their names from consideration and return to UT for their senior seasons. Both players have until May 29th to remove their names if they wish to return to Tennessee.

    If both Williams and Bone keep their names in after the May 29th deadline passes, they could still return to UT thanks to a new rule in place. If either player goes undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, they have until 5:00 PM the Monday after the draft (June 24th) to notify Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer if they wish to return to school as long as they terminate their relationship with the agent they hired for the draft process.