April 9, 2019 / 5:44 PM / 12 days ago

Tennessee's Williams testing NBA draft process

Two-time SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams announced Tuesday that he is entering the NBA draft but will remain open to returning to school for his senior season.

FILE PHOTO: Mar 28, 2019; Louisville, KY, United States; Tennessee Volunteers forward Grant Williams (2) dunks as Purdue Boilermakers center Matt Haarms (32) and forward Grady Eifert (24) defend during the second half in the semifinals of the south regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-7 Williams said he will go through the process and make a decision at a later date about whether to stay in the draft. He has until May 29 to make up his mind.

“My whole thing is I want to go into the process with an open mind and understand what I need to improve on and what I need to get better at, while also understanding I have to make the most informed decision possible,” Williams said during a press conference. “If it is the right time, then it is the right time. It is just a matter of going into it with the mindset that I’m going into it to improve myself.”

Williams averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds this season while earning first-team All-American honors.

The Volunteers (31-6) matched the school record for victories and reached the Sweet 16 before losing to Purdue. Williams allows that there is unfinished business.

“No doubt. There’s always that (thought) process of there’s more that we can do, more that we can accomplish,” Williams said. “That’s something that is always going to be in your mind throughout the process no matter what is going on. You have to understand that it’s a win-win.

“If you come back, there’s a lot more you can do as a team and individually in the future it can be a win in that aspect as well.”

Williams’ decision to test the NBA waters comes one day after coach Rick Barnes decided to turn down overtures from UCLA to remain at Tennessee.

“I talked to him three or four times,” Williams said of Barnes. “I reached out to him and he reached out to me. I let him know I trusted him because he is a guy who had never been about himself, it has never been about money. It has never been about anything of that sort. It has been about how he can impact people’s lives.

“I know that Coach Barnes, his goal is he wants a championship. In order to make that happen, he knows he can do it here. He knew he could do it wherever he went. I think being here at the University of Tennessee is something that helps him be comfortable.”

Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone also recently entered the draft. He also is open to returning to the Volunteers.

—Field Level Media

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