Coming into this year, you (and myself) would have scoffed at the notion that Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams could potentially leave early for the NBA. Each player took some real strides this year, taking ownership of this team and growing their games to force the NBA to take notice.
After leading Tennessee to a 26-9 record and a regular season SEC Co-Championship, Schofield and Williams are far from satisfied. The Vols were bounced from the NCAA Tournament yesterday on a last second shot by Loyola-Chicago, giving the season a hollow ending.
According to their comments last night following the game, each player will give it another go next season.
Schofield: “I love my teammates, I love my family. These guys are my brothers. I haven’t thought one bit about the NBA other than that’s my dream and my goal. I haven’t thought about leaving or anything like that.” (Via Knox News)
Williams: “I’m just focused on my guys, that hasn’t even crossed my mind. I’m really just focused on getting back here next year and winning. That’s the biggest thing.” (Via GoVols247)
Perhaps more important to both — there’s still room to grow. Grant specifically lacks true NBA size and will likely have to develop a consistent jumpshot if he wants a chance to blossom at the next level. At 6-7, Williams is going to have to be much more than just a post player in the NBA. Adding a jumper to his game could really take him to the next level and make Tennessee that much more dangerous next season.
For Schofield, another year to fine tune his outside game could really solidify his NBA prospects. It wouldn’t surprise me if the NBA thought more of Admiral than Grant at this point, simply due to size. Schofield has an opportunity to contend for SEC Player of the Year next year with the steps forward that he took this year. He saw his points per game improve from 8.2 to 13.9. His three point shooting improved from 38 to 39 percent, despite taking over 100 more outside attempts. Schofield could be a legitimate guard prospect heading into next year.
Each have room to grow and it sounds like both are hungry to go get some more next year. Just judging from where this roster has come from, it’s exciting to think about how much more they can grow. You know that bad taste that Loyola-Chicago and Kentucky left in their mouths are going to motivate them plenty over the summer.
Keep in mind that Tennessee has one scholarship available with the departure of James Daniel. They’re in hot pursuit of Anfernee Simons, the nation’s No. 7 player in the 2018 class, according to 247 Sports.
It’s going to take months to get over that shot dropping off the hand of Clayton Custer, but with Schofield and Williams returning, I’m fired up about this team coming out next year to avenge their lackluster postseason.
Is it November yet?