On the go

Despite the warming temperatures, now is not the time for vacation for Tennessee's newly hired coaching staff.

No one has to remind Kent Williams of that.

One of two assistants to come with Cuonzo Martin from Missouri State, Williams and his fellow coaches have to recruit, evaluate, coach, then recruit some more.

That continues this weekend with prospects still evaluating the Vols during the spring evaluation period.

Here I spoke to Williams about the challenge of hitting the ground running:

DH: How important is it to get to know your current players as soon as possible through individual workouts?

KW: We jumped right on into individual workouts. You really test the guys to see who's tough, who can fight through it and really see where their skill sets are and who we really need to go out and get. Another thing that's up in air is how many scholarships were going to have (with Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson pondering a jump to the NBA). We may not fill all those spots and if we don't find quality players that are good we'll move those to next year.

DH: What are some of the improvements you can make with your current players during individual workouts?

KW: First and foremost, to be a good shooter you have to have confidence and, after talking to some of the guys it seems they didn't know what was a good shot. If you have those doubts in your mind, then it's hard to be confident with it. They're obviously good enough shooters because they did it in high school and were good enough to make it to this level. We've got a lot of good athletes in this league and you have to be ready to get the ball off and can't wait two seconds for a shot."

DH: What are some changes you need to make to current players in order to implement your offense?

KW: It's going to be important for guys to learn how to move and cut. There are still some things we're trying to figure out on what exactly we want to do with our offense. We run screens, and that's the hardest thing to guard in basketball. We're going to work on that a lot, reading screens and fast paced situations going up and down the court. We're going to do things that flow with the game of basketball. You've got to make big plays like a great basketball player. So hopefully that's going to be an easy transition for the guys, learning how to play the game more. We don't want them to be boxed in certain spots and I think they'll like that and it will be a fresh idea.

DH: When will you evaluate your current players closely?

KW: We'll do that a lot, especially in the off season. We have a program that we actually used in Missouri State that allows us to break down everybody's plays and we will do that when the recruiting process slows down a little bit. I want to see these guys with a fresh look with no opinion about them when they come in. On the flip side I was the one that did a scouting report on (UT) before we played last year, and I got to see a lot of the guys play. We have a lot of feel for the guys and watch them as they play this summer.

DH: Did you think at all last season when you were at Missouri State that you might be coaching at UT one day?

KW: I didn't think about it too much but at that time that's when everything was starting to come out a little more about Coach (Bruce) Pearl and how things could possibly happen. It's one of those things you might have thought about for a second but not really.

DH: What do you look for in a prospect?

KW: You want to get guys to be a great person and to be a better man just like (football) coach (Derek) Dooley says, and at this level you want to get guys that will spring into the NBA eventually. One sell that Coach Martin is going to have is character and toughness; that's the two biggest keys he talks about for recruiting kids. The community wants to get behind good people like that. The SEC is a tough conference, and it takes a toll on you so we need good, tough players.

DH: You have a young staff that recently played competitive basketball. Can you hang with some of the Vols you're coaching?

KW: We might be able to hold our own a little bit I don't know how long. One thing we like to do since we're young is to go out there and mix it up with the guys. Coach (Jon) Harris, myself and Coach Martin got out there and mixed it up to show the managers and players how it works. You do get a better feel for the players when you're on the court with them. We can use that as a bonus. We're not too far removed when we talk about players that we played against in college that are in the NBA now that are fresh names. That can definitely help because we understand how the game has evolved over the years. We know what the guys like to do.

DH: Did you have any reservations about leaving Missouri State?

KW: The only reservations I had was leaving players you had a connection with and had built something together. This was a great chance for me to develop, and I wanted to come with Coach Martin. I have great respect for him and I enjoyed working with him the last three years. As far as the sanctions (that could be levied against UT), it's going to happen one way or the other, so whatever they hit us with, we'll be fine. We've just got to bust through it. I'm just glad UT hired a coach that's going to do things the right way. We're going to get the right players and there will be some road blocks but that's fine. Most places you go you can't be too picky when you take over. You've got to come in and be who you are and coach how you coach and run the program they way you think it should be ran.

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