After a record-breaking week, the Southeastern Conference tabbed Tennessee men’s basketball player Grant Williams as the SEC Player of the Week on Monday.
The Charlotte, N.C., native averaged 31 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 steals per game last week to keep the top-ranked Vols (18-1, 6-0 SEC) perfect in league play and defeat their opponent in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The National Player of the Year candidate posted one of the most dominant performances in program history to lift No. 1 Tennessee to an 88-83 victory in overtime against Vanderbilt, finishing with a career-high 43 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor, eight rebounds, four blocks, two assists and a key steal. It was the most points scored in a game by a Vol since all-time leading scorer Allan Houston also dropped 43 against LSU on Feb. 10, 1990. Williams’ effort also tied for the fifth-most points in a single game in school history.
The junior forward was a program-record 23-of-23 from the free-throw line, breaking the Tennessee records for most free throws in a game and consecutive free throws in a single game, surpassing Bill Justus’ 22 total makes and 18 consecutive free throw makes vs. Ohio on March 17, 1969. It also marked the most free throws made without a miss by any player in Division I in the last 60 years and ranked second all-time behind a 24-of-24 performance by Oklahoma State’s Arlen Clark vs. Colorado (3/7/1959).
Williams excels at drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line. No junior in Division I has made (423) or attempted (562) more career free throws than him. For the season, 35 percent (135 of 384) of his scoring has come at the charity stripe.
Against West Virginia, Williams had 19 points, four assists and three steals to improve Tennessee to 4-1 all time in the cross-conference showdown.
For the year, Williams stands as the only player in the SEC to rank in the league’s top 10 in scoring (1st/20.2 ppg), rebounding (9th/7.3 rpg) and assists (10th/3.6 apg). He also checks in at second in field-goal percentage (.571) and fifth in free-throw percentage (.839).
This is the third SEC Player of the Week honor for Williams. Previously, he was recognized as player of the week on Nov. 26, 2018, for his play in the NIT Season Tip-Off and Jan. 15, 2018, after a 37-point performance against Vanderbilt. He was also named the SEC co-Freshman of the Week on Feb. 13, 2017.