Tennessee’s star forward, Grant Williams, has been drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Williams becomes the first Vol to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft since Tobias Harris was selected 19th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Harris was then traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
For his Tennessee career, Williams appeared in 104 games and made 101 starts. He averaged 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists as a Vol. His 1,629 career points ranks inside the top-15 all-time in school history.
As a junior this past season, 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 SEC legends Pete Maravich, Shaquille O’Neal, and Corliss Williamson. Williams was also named a consensus First-Team All-American, joining King and Ellis as the only Vols to earn that honor.
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 appearance. 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, and it was the most points scored by a Vol in a game since Allan Houston.
As a sophomore, Williams won his first SEC Player of the Year award. Williams was also an honorable mention on the AP All-American Team, a member of the Coaches All-SEC First Team and the AP All-SEC First Team. That season, Williams led the Vols in scoring (15.2 ppg), was second in blocks (44) and rebounding (6.0 rpg), and finished fourth in assists (66). He scored at least 10 points in 29 of Tennessee’s 35 games while leading the Vols in scoring in 12 contests. He scored 20-points eight times and ranked ninth in the SEC in scoring (16.1 ppg) as well as ninth in shooting percentage (.463).
Williams earned All-SEC Freshman honors as a freshman in 2016-17. He started 29 of Tennessee’s 32 games and scored 402 points, which ranks sixth all-time among Tennessee freshmen. Williams finished the year as Tennessee’s second-leading scorer (12.6 ppg) and led the team in rebounding (5.9 rpg). His team-high 61 blocked shots are the most ever by a freshman in program history.
The 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward joined the Vols as a three-star out of high school, but he turned into an All-SEC player and finishes his Tennessee career as one of the most decorated Vols ever.
Now, Williams will get a chance to begin his professional career in Boston.
As for the Celtics, they’re looking to be in a bit of a rebuild after a somewhat disappointing season.
Boston finished with a 49-33 overall record and lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals four games to one to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics are parting ways with point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Al Horford, two pivotal pieces of their roster the last two seasons.
Williams becomes the first Vol to be drafted by the Celtics since Steve Hamer was taken with the 38th overall pick in the second round of the 1996 draft. He’s the fourth Vol ever to be drafted by Boston.