June 20, 2024

Tennessee basketball MVP of the week: Grant Williams

Grant Williams put the cherry on top of a wonderful freshman campaign with a pair of solid performances in the final week of the regular season.

Photo by Brad Blackwelder

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee freshman forward #2 Grant Williams watches both teams walk the court after a dead ball during the Vols' game against Missouri on Feb. 18, 2017, in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee’s regular season has officially come to an end, and the last week was a microcosm for the season as a whole. The Vols (16-15, 8-10 SEC) played to the level of their competition in each game, coming away with an ugly road loss to a bad team and a thrilling home victory over a team with a better record.

That maddening inconsistency is due in large part to the fact that the team is led by mostly freshman. First-year players often struggle to find consistency from play to play and game to game, and that’s shown throughout the season. One young player has shown remarkable steadiness on the season, however, and showed it again in the pair of games over the season’s final week.

Despite being a freshman, Grant Williams is already one of the team’s two best players, and he showcased it again with a pair of good performances. Against LSU on Wednesday, he led the team with 16 points and 14 rebounds, the latter of which was a career-high. He also blocked four shots, providing the only semblance of defense in a game that finished 92-82 in favor of the Tigers. The loss ended any hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but the Charlotte native was still able to put on a show.

Williams led the team in scoring against Alabama on Saturday, piling in another 16 points. He also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and again swatted multiple shots, this time with three. Lew Evans stole the show with a pair of huge late 3-pointers on his Senior Day, but Williams was hugely important to the big second-half run that got the home team back in the game. He even showed off some shooting range of his own by beating the shot clock buzzer with a corner 3-pointer to pull even closer to the Crimson Tide.

The 6-foot-5 freshman has impressed all season and has been one of the primary reasons that Tennessee has exceeded expectations on the year. Whether it’s a bad loss to a team with just two conference wins or an exciting comeback victory to send off the seniors in fashion, Williams is always ready to help his team win.

As the Vols gear up for the SEC tournament, Williams will continue to lead the way with his play. Postseason play begins with a matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 9 in Nashville. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

Edited by Robert Hughes

Featured image by Brad Blackwelder

Quinn is an assistant sports editor for TNJN and a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennesse. When he's not writing, he's probably doing something else. You can follow him on Twitter (@QuinnNotCook) or e-mail him at qpilkey@vols.utk.edu.