Tennessee Shoots For Shawne

Tennessee's line-in-the-sand approach to retaining in-state basketball talent took a direct hit when Portland High School standout Corey Brewer recently announced his intentions to sign with Florida.

Now Coach Buzz Peterson's aims of netting the best players in the Volunteer State will be tested in the recruitment of Memphis Hamilton High School star Shawnee Williams, a 6-8, 235-pound small forward who is being compared to Penny Hardaway.

Currently participating at the Indianapolis Nike Camp, Williams has the size to play power forward and the skill to be a small forward at collegiate level and he logs a lot of minutes at the two guard for Hamilton. He has good range on his jumper and a burgeoning post-up game.

The Insiders basketball analyst Dave Telep projects Williams as a combo forward but allows he could eventually develop into a two guard.

"That's an NBA position more than a college position," Telep said. "I think Shawnee needs to focus on continuing to develop the college aspects of his game, but down the line you never know."

Telep rates Williams the nation's No. 28 prospect overall and Basketball News has him listed No. 6 at the small forward position in the Class of 2004. He is regarded as one of Tennessee's two best prospects along with Brewer. That makes him especially important to the Vols who are looking to lock down the Volunteer State's best prospects much as Kevin O'Neil did during his three-year tenure. Williams also represents an opportunity to tap into the Memphis pipeline of hardwood talent that has largely elluded the Vols in recent years.

UT did sign Memphis White Station combo guard Dane Bradshaw in the recruiting class of 2003 and accepted Memphis University guard Scooter McFadgon last year as a transfer. Both players are expected to make significant contributions this fall.

Williams could have an immediate impact next fall at Tennessee, but the competiton for his services figures to be intense. The Vols are currently among five favorites that include hometown Memphis, Kansas, Arkansas and DePaul. Williams is also considering Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Houston and St. John's.

Williams' head coach at Hamilton is Ted Anderson who is also the step father of former Arkansas All-American Todd Day. He's expected to take an unofficial visit to Fayetteville in the near future. Losing a second in-state blue chipper to another SEC school would represent a serious setback to Peterson's rebuilding efforfs.

Conversely landing the top prospect from the Bluff City would be a major boost to a program that has lost such stellar players as Vincent Yarbrough, Marcus Haislip and Ron Slay over the last two seasons. Williams who is known as "Baby Penny" in Memphis, is a player that has both a versatilie game and star quality.

"I love him," said Telep. "I think he's a guy who could potentially make some money at this one day. His jump shot from the past few years has continued to improve and athletically I think he's one of the top five or six athletes in this (Nike) camp. I think good things are on the horizon for Shawnee Williams." If that horizon is Orange, the Vols future will be much brighter.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories