Grant Williams is truly a renaissance man. He was named a two-time SEC Player of the Year while at Tennessee, a trivia-buff with decades of sports statistics memorized, a Chipotle fiend, a reader, and a student of the game. With so many talents, it’s hard to imagine how Williams has found a way on so many talented squads from Chris Paul’s AAU team to Tennessee and now the Celtics, and been able to thrive. However, just as Williams stands out for his variety of skills, he’s also a sponge and able to make the most of any environment he’s in. While chatting with Packie and Mike for Mental Buckets, Williams detailed the skills needed to adapt to a variety of teams and systems.
While in Knoxville, Williams was the Vols’ go-to guy. He had the ball in his hands in all dire situations, and averaged above 12 points per game in all three seasons in the SEC. Then, when he got drafted by the Boston Celtics, Williams knew he wouldn’t have the responsibilities. He experienced a major change in a role and was relied on for other assets such as defense rather than simply being the scorer.
“I always laugh when people say Grant Williams can’t do this or Grant Williams can’t do that,” he said on Mental Buckets. “It’s not my role to do this, we all can’t be the 30 point scorer.”
Being able to truly put the team he’s on first is a gift that Williams has and should be admired by many young hoopers. Williams does this first and foremost through his unparalleled work ethic. Packie recalls a pre-draft workout with him in which he came to the gym in Santa Barbara at 4:30 AM, and then flew back to Knoxville just in time for his college graduation. Since coming to Boston, he has continued to soak up as much knowledge as possible from veterans such as Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker.
“It’s just a matter of being open to your weaknesses. I know I’m not the most skilled player in the world yet,” Williams said of how he continues to grow. “I know there’s a long way to go before I hit a “ceiling” or “peak,” so I gotta approach every single day that way and be grateful because not many guys have the opportunity I have in the position that I’m in and with the franchise that I’m with.”
Williams' drive stretches beyond the court as well. Williams was raised by his mother Theresa who doubled as a NASA engineer, chose Tennessee over elite institutions such as Yale and Harvard. He graduated in three years, and nearly went back to school to pursue an MBA in finance. Williams simply doesn’t stop regardless of what arena he is in, and should be viewed as a role model for generations to come. As for how he got to where he is, his advice to younger hoopers goes as follows;
“Work even harder. You think you’re working hard, and think you’re taking care of yourself, you’re not. Do a better job taking care of your diet and work hard on the court as well as in the classroom because you have a lot of success coming your way if you do.”
There’s one particular exercise Clair Steele will never forget from UPB. And that’s Packie’s famous five-minute plank that would be thrown in at the end of workouts. Clair Steele used to dread those planks.