Tennessee forward Grant Williams is one of the best players in America. The Volunteer junior is the centerpiece of the 8th-ranked Volunteers, who are making a late push at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament next week.
The 6-foot-7, 236-pounder has averaged 19.2 points and 7.6 rebounds. He’s versatile, as he’s able to distribute (3.2 assists/game) on offense and generate highlights on defense (1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals a contest).
He also shines on the biggest stage. In 3 matchups with top-5 Kentucky, Williams has averaged 20 points while canning 55 percent of his shot attempts. He guided the Volunteers to an 82-78 victory in the most recent meeting Saturday in the SEC Tournament semifinal.
He enters Sunday’s championship game against Auburn (1 p.m. EST, ESPN) with some first-round projections in the NBA Draft. Let’s take a look at these prognostications:
Grant Williams NBA Draft Projections & Mock Draft
Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation sends Williams to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the No. 23 pick in his most recent mock draft.
Williams has established himself as one of the top players in the country for a Tennessee team fighting for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. He’s a physical 6’7, 240-pound forward with a sterling 65 percent true shooting percentage who has built an efficient two-way game by being a smart and competitive player. NBA teams will hope his perimeter jump shot (34 percent on 35 attempts) can continue to grow.
The most recent mock draft from Rob Dauster of NBC Sports fits Williams in the first round as the No. 25 pick. Dauster compares the Volunteer to the likes Ben Simmons, Jared Dudley and David West.
Our own Jon Adams left Williams off his most recent NBA Mock Draft. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype lists him as the No. 32 overall prospect on his aggregate mock draft. The Athletic and Bleacher Report have him going No. 26, whereas SI.com relegates him to the second round at No. 41.
Grant Williams NBA Draft Big Board Rankings
On Aran Smith’s NBA Draft Net’s list of 100 players, Williams has shot up 44 spots since his last update. He looks like a second-rounder at No. 56 overall.
ESPN’s Draft Board has him as the No. 7 power forward and No. 24 player overall. While criticized for his “lack of athleticism,” he is lauded for his expanding skillset.
Standing just 6-7 (at best) with a reported 6-11 wingspan and unspectacular athleticism, Williams needed to round out his game to become a more viable NBA prospect. He has done exactly that this season, improving his rebounding numbers considerably, nearly doubling his assist rate and shooting more than twice as many 3s.
Williams is still not the most confident outside shooter, often passing up open 3s to execute the Vols’ methodical and unselfish offense, but the flashes he has shown in this area are very encouraging. He steps into trail 3s confidently, attacks closeouts to pull up for midrange jumpers on occasion and shows a high release point and great touch that indicate there’s plenty of room for optimism. The fact that he’s also an elite screener, a tremendous rebounder, an intelligent defender and a reportedly awesome teammate will also work in his favor. He just turned 20 and is younger than all but four of the 17 sophomores — and all of the juniors — currently in our top 100.
Another way to earn attention from the NBA? Ken Pomeroy ranks him as the No. 6 player in the country. He stands next to other elite players such as Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett on that list.
Stay in that company, expect his stock to continue rising. Earn a No. 1 seed and lead the Volunteers to a deep run in March Madness, and expect scouts to notice.