Grant Williams Press Conference (4.9.19)

Grant Williams Transcript

Opening statement:
“I am not going to try and make this super dramatic, but there are a few comments that I would like to make. Looking back, who would’ve thought that a chubby kid from Charlotte, North Carolina, would be doing this and playing the game of basketball? I never could’ve imagined that I would be here today, but over the past three years at the University of Tennessee, I have made some incredible memories off and on the court. I have been surrounded by and met a group of phenomenal people that have impacted my life in ways that I couldn’t have had imagined. I have had a great experience with the NCAA and college basketball, and on top of that, I want to have a great experience in professional basketball because it has been my dream since I was young to play in the NBA. I knew the decision I made had to be my own, and I have to trust myself, but also lean on my mother, my father, my brothers and my coaches to make the most informed decision possible. It is my decision and I have prayed on it. I trust my heart. I will test the waters and enter the NBA draft process, but I will not forgo my last season at the University of Tennessee, with the capability to come back and finish what I started here. This process helps me gather information as a player and figure out what I need to do to improve. I will use the new rules to allow a player to hire an agent to make the most informative decision possible. I will go through this process trying to gather as much information as possible because it is a win-win scenario in both ways. Thank you, and I appreciate everything you do as well as the support from the most loyal fans in the country.”

Credit: UT Athletics

On what criteria he will be using when he decides to stay in the draft or come back:
“I haven’t decided on that because 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. But also understand that to make the most informed decision possible and at the right time. It is just a matter of going into it with a mindset of I’m going into it to improve myself.”

On what he thinks he needs to improve on:
“I know that I need to improve on my defensive capabilities on the perimeter and also consistently shooting the three at a high level. I think I have shown that I can put the ball in the basket in other ways, but consistently knocking down the outside shot and also defending smaller, quicker guys is something I need to consistently show that I need to do.”

On if Rick Barnes ended up leaving Tennessee would it have impacted his decision:
“It definitely made it easier having Coach Barnes come back. If you think about it, Coach Barnes is a phenomenal guy. He has done a lot for the community and he’s done so much. I know that he was torn because if you told myself in recruiting that I was going to be offered by a blue blood like Kentucky, UCLA, UNC, you’re going to have to consider it because it’s a pedigree. And when you look at UCLA, Wooden and everything there, you have to trust and believe that he was going to make the best decision possible. He was going to pray on it and understand he is going to make the decision for himself and those around him. It took him time, and I think his heart a little bit, but he made the decision that he think is best. I fully trust Coach Barnes and I would’ve trusted him whether he was staying or leaving; I told him that. I have the most love and sincerity in my heart for him.”

On what the news about Barnes was like as a player and watching it all unfold: 
“I talked to him three or four times (yesterday). I reached out to him and he reached out to me. I let him know that I trusted him because he’s been the guy that has never been about himself or the money. It has never been about anything of that sort. It has always been about how to impact people’s lives, and I know that Coach Barnes’ goal is a championship. And in order to make that happen, he knows he can do it here or wherever he wants. I think that being here at the University of Tennessee is something that helps him be comfortable because he loves it here. He has said it many times that being here has been one of the greatest experiences of coaching. And with the guys around him, he knows he can do it and he can provide it.”

On how difficult it was to not think about the NBA too much during the season and how he goes about the agent process:
“For myself during the year, I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I just played the game because I know if you put your heart and mind into basketball it is going to take care of itself. Jordan Bone and I are roommates, so we had conversations about it every now and then. We trust each other. But for me, it was always about being there for the team, and I think Bone thought the same. The second part of that question is when it comes to an agent, it is all about the trust and communication. I have always been about honesty and being up front. I have always been the guy who respects the honest truth, whether that’s telling me I am going to be drafted or not going to be drafted, this is what this team feels about you, I want that over anything else. I also want to have a personal relationship as well as a business relationship because in the end it is a business. But being able to have somebody you trust and somebody you can care about and somebody you can put your respect into, that is huge.”

On if he has talked about his teammates and what the conversation is like:
“I have. Those guys have been very supportive of not only myself, but everybody else, and Bone. Kyle Alexander left last night, and that kind of tore us up a little bit. It has been a long 24 hours. It has been communication that we trust each other and support each other in whatever happens. We will always be there for each other and that is that love and passion we have for each other. And that whatever happens, we will be there for each other.”

On what point in his career did he realize the NBA could be a real possibility:
“Honestly, it never really hit me until looking back on it. I’ve always gone through the process of just understanding that it’s a game. I love it. I love basketball. It’s something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I always thought that it would come if I continued to work hard. Coach always told me it would get there. I trusted him and I trusted those around me. Eventually, when that time comes, I will be ready. But, if it’s not there, you just have to keep working.”

On if he ever thought he would become a two-time SEC Player of the Year and if it entices him to become a three-time winner:
“Growing up, I don’t know if I could say I would have thought that. It’s definitely something that is going to be in the back of your mind, something you could do. There’s always going to be that scenario thinking, ‘Hey, we have a championship team. We can come back and do something special.’ There’s things individually that I could do that could be historic, but there’s also the mindset of you have to do what is best. You have to trust the opinions of those around you. You have to trust your family. Trust your coaching staff. Also, you have to have trust in yourself and understand that it’s your decision and either way it’s a win-win. Because coming back here, I have another phenomenal year because of the people I’m around every day. No matter what happens in basketball, I would enjoy it.”

On the talent coming to Tennessee and the returning players from last year’s team:
“We have a lot of talented players coming in. We have Josiah-Jordan James, Drew Pember, Davonte Gaines and guys that are already here. Guys that are ready to step up. Guys that are going to adapt. There’s opportunity for Bone to come back as well. He could come back and it could be another great year. It could have a huge impact on this university. We could do something that hasn’t been done in a long time. That day will come.”

On his family and how involved they were in the process of his decision and if James has been recruiting him to come back to school for his senior season:
“My family has always been supportive of me. They trust my decision-making. They learned that with college. They learned that they can inform but they also have to listen and understand that what they think might not be the best idea, they have to try to understand what I think. They were always going to be there and support me no matter what I decided. That’s what they told me, they said, ‘No matter what decision you make, we’re here for it.’ With Josiah, I talked to him a couple times yesterday. He’s a great kid. He’s going to hopefully be that guy that is kind of a recruiter but also a goofy kid that everyone is going to love around here. He has that type of personality. He’s been texting me throughout the year, and I think that’s something that he will continue to do.”

On if he is still on track to graduate next month:
“Yes, I’m graduating May 10.”

On if he could be swayed by Jordan Bone’s decision to return to school or declare for the NBA Draft:
“My whole thing is going to be going into the process for the best decision for myself. Sure, if Bone stays, that’s huge because it adds a little bit to it. I always wanted to go into it with the most informed decision-making that I can. I have until May 29 to decide, and that’s a short, but a long time away. I want to gather as much information as possible in order to make the best decision for myself.”

On how much advice he will take from NBA teams on what he needs to work on versus what the team needs are:
“It is a huge balance. It’s a matter of communication between both the staff and the guys because you want to do things that are going to help you improve individually. You also want to remember that it’s a team and as much passion as you have for it in life, you can work on it here. It’s about working out, it’s about how much time you put in the gym. You don’t necessarily have to do it in the office every single day. But, it’s something you can work on your own. That’s how our coaching staff is. They understand you want to improve, and they are going to help you improve on what you believe you should improve on. They are also going to add in the things that are helping our offense. I think Coach Barnes and staff will do a great job either way.”

If there is a feeling of unfinished business with the team and if it factors in his decision to return to school:
“No doubt. There’s always that thought process of, ‘There’s more that we can do. There’s more that we need to accomplish. That’s something that is always going to be in your mind throughout the process. I think that no matter what is going on, you have to understand that it is a win-win. You can come back, there can be a lot more we can do as a team. Individually, in the future, it can be a win in that aspect as well.”

The feeling and emotion of the team when it discovered Coach Barnes would remain at Tennessee:
“Guys were ecstatic. Guys were excited, because we knew guys were going to trust him. Same with him, we want him to live out the dreams that he has. If that’s here, which it is, we were going to support it. If it wasn’t we were going to support it that way. He does that for us every single day, he puts as much time as he can in that gym as anyone. We knew that we were going to support him just like he supports us when he goes to the gym and spends extra hours. Or when he supports us deciding to test the process like Bone and I are doing. He’s always been a guy that shows love and care for us, and that’s what we’ll do for him.”

On his experience at the Naismith Awards and what he has coming up this weekend:
“The Naismith Awards were incredible. It was an event that allowed us to bond as a group of individuals, but also meet a lot of phenomenal people at the moment. Zion Williamson won the award, and I was super excited for him because he deserved it. It was just a weekend we got to experience. We got to go to the Final Four. We saw the Auburn-Virginia game. We saw the Texas Tech-Michigan State game. We spent a lot of time together, so it was really fun in that aspect. This weekend, we’re going to L.A. for the Wooden Award, which will be just as exciting. There is a group of five individuals that are very deserving of the award. We’re going out there to both enjoy it, but also understand that we are going to meet a lot of incredible people there as well.”

On the next step in the process of testing the NBA Draft waters:
“In order for you to start the process, you have to submit the paperwork, which I will probably do today. I will start coordinating that at a later date.”

 

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