"I’ve worked to prepare myself for these decisive moments, so I can embrace them instead of getting stressed."
Supply Chain Management - Alumni
Supply Chain Management - Alumni
Tennessee Volunteer Grant Williams (HCB, ’19) is well known as a man of stature on and off the basketball court, but he’s also a man of character. Friends and family describe him as humble, smart, persevering, and always willing to lend a listening ear.
Over the past three years, Williams has grown from a promising freshman recruit out of North Carolina to one of the most celebrated players in NCAA basketball. His accolades include winning two back-to-back SEC Player of the Year awards and being named a 2019 First-Team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
At the same time, Williams successfully balanced academics with the grueling demands of athletics, pursuing and completing a degree in supply chain management at the Haslam College of Business in only three years. His family, he stresses, helped him build a solid foundation in academics, self-discipline, and sports.
Initially, Williams was influenced by his mother’s 30-year career as an engineer at NASA, and he entered UT as a mechanical engineering student. After a year he decided that it wasn’t the best fit. His friend and Vols teammate, Lucas Campbell, was studying supply chain management and suggested that Grant look into it. “I’m the type of person who loves making connections with people, and he recognized that I’d be good at this,” says Williams.
After researching the major and making the switch, his experience in the supply chain program at the Haslam College of Business was a perfect fit. Whether on the operations or logistics side, he hopes to work in the field when his basketball career is over.
Business, he says, is a lot like basketball. “If you have a collective group of good people working toward a goal, able to cooperate and understand that goal and all the little details that matter along the way, you’re going to be successful. Learning to pay attention to details is a valuable skill in both business and basketball, and it’s important to manage relationships well because you never know who will impact your life in the future.”
While he enjoys stretching himself, Williams admits that the path has not been an easy one. “It’s definitely difficult to pursue both academics and basketball seriously,” he admits. “Like everyone, I have times when I doubt myself, but instead of complaining, I try to push through it because I know all my effort is worth something. Fighting through adversity will make me stronger.”
Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in supply chain management in May, and at press time had chosen to remain in the NBA draft. “I want to be the best man I can be,” he says. The NBA draft process is slow and nerve-wracking, but he’s trying to enjoy the ride. “I’ve worked to prepare myself for these decisive moments, so I can embrace them instead of getting stressed,” he says.
In the long term, Williams wants to raise a family, manage his finances well, and stay connected to those he’s met on his journey. “I’ve had a lot of great people surrounding me, whether it was coaches, families, friends, or trainers,” he says. “They have all impacted me on the court or in life, and I am really thankful because I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them. Going forward, I want to keep learning and keep growing through those kinds of connections.”
In his research, Haileab Hilafu aims to make it easier to extract actionable knowledge from large datasets