CHARLOTTE — Former Providence Day basketball star and current Tennessee sophomore Grant Williams is going to have to get a bigger trophy case.
Williams was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches on March 6 and the 6-foot-7, 241-pound forward was also named to the 10-player United States Basketball Writers Association District IV All-District Team. The USBWA has nine regions from coast to coast and District IV includes schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Williams was also named to the 2018 All-SEC First Team by the league’s coaches and he was a unanimous pick on the Associated Press 2018 All-SEC Team. Williams joins Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Bernard King as the only Tennessee player to be named the SEC Player of the Year as an underclassman.
Williams, who picked Tennessee over a host of offers from schools in the Ivy League, is averaging 16.1 points a game, which is ninth best in the league. Williams, who is shooting 46 percent from the field, scored 20-plus points in eight games and has been in double digits 24 times, despite being double-teamed on most nights.
“What a wonderful honor, and he has worked really hard,” said Providence Day basketball coach Brian Field, who coached Williams in high school. “Great kid from a great family. The one word to describe him is he is a winner.”
Field said Williams turned down multiple offers from some of the best academic schools in the country to play in the SEC.
“The fun thing about it was he was really passed over by big schools,” Field said. “He really didn’t have offers from Power 5 conferences. Not a lot of SEC, ACC, Big 10 offers. Tennessee was the only one out there. (Tennessee) Coach (Rick) Barnes really believed in him and Grant wanted to follow that dream to play at the highest level he could. It has worked out for him. He loves to play against the best competition.”
Williams, who has started the last 59 games at Tennessee, is also averaging 76 percent from the free throw line and he is averaging six rebounds a game. Tennessee (23-7), which was picked at the start of the season to finish 13th in the 14-team SEC, earned a share of the SEC regular season championship and the Volunteers are playing in the SEC Tournament this weekend
Field said Williams, who just turned 19-years-old, has the tools to play professional basketball.
“He has barely scratched the surface,” Field said. “The exciting thing, I’ve had a few NBA teams reach out to me to get background research on him for the draft this year. I do not know what will come of that, whether it is this year or next year. Grant will have a chance to play professionally. I’m thrilled for him. It couldn’t happen to a better young man.”