Grant Williams to Remain in NBA Draft

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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    In a video put out by Stadium’s Shams Charania, Tennessee star forward Grant Williams has announced his intentions to remain in the NBA Draft, forgoing his senior season at Tennessee.

    “Well, my decision is that I’m going to stay in the NBA Draft,” Williams said in the video. “After receiving this feedback from NBA teams and how I performed and what I’m hearing, I feel confident in myself and my game as well as what I’m hearing from teams, and I’m excited to take this next step in my journey.”

    In the video, the two-time SEC Player of the Year would go on to thank Tennessee fans, his teammates, and coaches.

    “To Vol fans, honestly, I just want to thank you, because there’s not much more I can say, because you guys have been there for me and been amazing to me,” Williams said. “It’s been a great three years, and it’s been a great process.

    “I want to thank my teammates and my coaches, as well as you all (the fans), because without you all I wouldn’t be where I am at today. Please continue to guide me and please be there for me, because Vol nation has the best support in the world. Actually I really want to thank (Tennessee strength coach) Garrett Medenwald, coach Rick Barnes, coach Michael Schwartz, coach Rob Lanier, coach Kim English, and also coach Desmond Oliver, who’s my guy. He was my lead recruiter. I just want to them personally, thank God, thank my parents, and everybody who helped me and influenced me in my decision. All I have to say is Go Vols.”

    The decision to remain in the draft doesn’t come as a surprise. Williams has been projected to be drafted in the first round by nearly every mock draft since the NBA Draft Lottery concluded on Tuesday. Even before then, Williams was viewed as a likely first-round choice for NBA teams.

    As a junior, Williams was the first player to win SEC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons since 1995. Only 10 players have ever achieved the feat, including former Vols Bernard King and Dale Ellis as well as Pete Maravich, Shaquille O’Neal, and Corliss Williamson. Williams also joined King and Ellis as the only Vols to ever be named consensus first-team All-American by the NCAA.

    The Charlotte, North Carolina native averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game as he led Tennessee to a 31-6 record and a Sweet Sixteen performance this season. He also set a school record this season when he made 23-straight free throws in the Vols’ overtime victory over Vanderbilt in Nashville. Williams’ 23 consecutive free throws made set the program record for most free throws made in a row and most free throws made in a single game. His 43 points in that game are tied for the fifth-most in a single game in school history as well.

    Williams has a good chance of becoming the first Vol to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft since Tobias Harris in 2011. Harris was selected 19th overall by Charlotte but was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.

    This year’s NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 20.



    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.