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Vols’ Grant Williams hungry for improvement

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee forward Grant Williams wasn’t quite satisfied with a freshman season in which he dramatically outperformed his recruiting ranking.

Williams, who wasn’t rated as one of the nation’s top 150 prospects in his signing class, topped the Volunteers in rebounds (5.9) and was his team’s second-leading scorer (12.6) last season.

But he couldn’t get Tennessee into the NCAA Tournament, as the Vols haven’t produced a winning season since their 2014 Sweet 16 appearance.

Tennessee’s absence from the NCAAs left him hungry for postseason success and apparently changed his appetite in other ways as well. The 6-foot-5 sophomore says he reduced carbohydrates from his diet and already notices a difference.

“I feel like I can move better,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m just running better. I look better. I feel in general I can jump a little higher and my body has adapted to the college game. When I came in, I was roly-poly man.”

Williams says he arrived on campus last summer weighing “257 (or) a little bit higher maybe” before he got down to the 232-234 range during the season. He’s working to reduce his body fat percentage as he attempts to sustain his energy on the floor and stay effective for longer stretches.

The change became apparent during his mother’s recent visit to campus.

Williams’ mom, Teresa Johnson, shopped for groceries and brought her son steak kabobs, pasta and Buffalo wings. Williams told her to take all those items back to her Houston home because he couldn’t eat them.

“He has committed to the program and has maintained it,” Johnson said. “No matter how we might want to get him into rice, gravy and potatoes, he says, ‘No, I can’t have that.'”

Williams inherited that discipline from each of his parents. His mother, a NASA engineer, taught her children to have a variety of interests.

When he wasn’t playing basketball, Williams was entering academic competitions or studying music. Williams says he used to play as many as nine instruments and remains proficient with the piano, violin and clarinet. He’s planning to expand his musical repertoire eventually.

“I want to learn how to play the guitar and I want to learn how to play the saxophone,” Williams said.

Williams considered Yale and Princeton as well as Richmond before signing with Tennessee out of Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although Williams wasn’t a heralded recruit, Williams emerged as one of Tennessee’s top players in his freshman season.

His 61 blocked shots represented the second-highest single-season total in school history. His 402 points ranked sixth among all Tennessee freshmen ever.

He wanted more.

“I feel like I could have played better,” Williams said. “I feel there are a lot of things I missed out on. I could have played a lot harder at the beginning of the year, especially. I feel like every freshman has regrets.”

The next step is becoming more effective away from the basket. Williams believes he’s improved his ball-handling and has developed into a more consistent shooter. He’s working to show he can defend guards and wings on occasion.

His willingness to expand his game exemplifies the leadership skills Williams must utilize to boost a team whose only senior is Howard graduate transfer James Daniel III.

“He’s not acting like a freshman or a sophomore,” junior forward Kyle Alexander said. “He’s acting like a senior.”

Williams understands his improved versatility requires him to get in better shape. He won’t be able to defend quicker players if he’s still that self-described “roly-poly man” who arrived on campus last year.

That’s why he rejected some of his mother’s groceries as emphatically as he swatted away shots last season.

“The food looks good, but I just can’t do it,” Williams said. “I’ve got to stick to my diet.”

Michigan, Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

VIDEO: Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch and Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

Bill Self: Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility not in jeopardy ‘at this stage’

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One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2018-19 season for the Kansas Jayhawks is the eligibility status of Silvio De Sousa.

If you’ve forgotten, a player that is believed to be De Sousa was referenced in a second round of indictments handed by the FBI. In those documents, De Sousa’s guardian is alleged to have asked an Adidas rep for at least $20,000 to repay a rival apparel company for a payment that was made to secure De Sousa’s commitment to another school. Prior to a surprise commitment to Kansas, De Sousa was long considered a Maryland lean. His AAU program and high school team were both sponsored by Under Armour, whose flagship program is Maryland.

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, at this point De Sousa is still eligible.

“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that he could be in jeopardy at this stage,” Self said.

This is not surprising.

The way that I would expect this to play out is similar to the way it played out for players that were referenced in the indictments that came down last fall. Kansas is going to string this thing along until we get to a point in time close to the start of the season, when they will announce that De Sousa is being held out of competition. It is better for Kansas to bite the bullet and play without De Sousa than it would be for them to risk knowingly suiting up a player that can be retroactively ruled ineligible.

That sucks for De Sousa.

The good news for Kansas, however, is that Udoka Azubuike is back, as is Mitch Lightfoot, while both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible as they add freshman David McCormack. There is more than enough frontcourt depth to withstand the loss of De Sousa.

VIDEO: The #ShiggyChallenge has reached college hoops with Loyola’s coach showing his skills

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New Loyola-Maryland head coach Tavaras Hardy became the first college basketball head coach to get in on the Shiggy Challenge, as he posted this video to twitter on Tuesday morning:

What is the #ShiggyChallenge?

It’s the latest viral dance, which started just two weeks ago when an online personality named Shiggy posted himself dancing to Drake’s “In My Feelings” on Instagram:

#Mood : KEKE Do You Love Me ? 😂😂😂 @champagnepapi #DoTheShiggy #InMyFeelings

A post shared by Shoker🃏 (@theshiggyshow) on

From there, it took off, with everyone from Odell Beckham Jr. to James Harden trying to prove themselves capable of taking down the #ShiggyChallenge.

And now Tavaras Hardy is doing it.

The end.