"Brian Williams continues to make progress," Bruce Pearl said. "But it's now about productivity for Brian, not promise. I think the first few years (of a player's career) promise is fine. When freshmen and sophomores make plays and they're promising, I think that's terrific. You see signs of growth.
"But when you get to be a junior and senior, it's time to deliver. And I think it's time for Brian."
Williams, who backs up senior Wayne Chism in the post, made three starts last winter. He averaged 16.4 minutes, 5.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He actually led the Vols in rebounds per minute - grabbing one every 2.95 minutes, whereas Chism averaged one every 3.19 minutes. Williams also tied for second on the team in blocked shots with 20.
The big guy from The Bronx has the goods to be an All-SEC player someday ... if he'll just tap into all of that untapped potential.
Pearl thinks this will be the year that happens, noting: "I'm very confident in Brian's abilities to assume a more dominant role for us.
Williams thinks so, too.
"Coach believes that, I believe that and my teammates believe that," he said. "Confidence is all I need, and I think I'm gaining that."
Williams was dominating at times in 2008-09. He grabbed 15 rebounds vs. Gonzaga. He had 21 points and 12 rebounds vs. UT-Martin. At other times he just blended into the scenery - especially on the offensive end of the floor.
"I just need to improve my offensive game - scoring when I need to, being more aggressive, calling for the ball," he said. "My defense and rebounding were there. My coaches and teammates are pushing me to work harder, and I'm working harder than ever."
If Williams comes through this year, that will free Chism to switch from the post to power forward, thereby freeing power forward Tyler Smith to play some small forward.
Chism sees signs that Williams may be on the verge of a breakthrough.
"Brian has a lot of post moves," Chism said. "He came in with a lot. He's becoming more dominant down there, more consistent."
If Williams improves his consistency enough to maximize his potential, he just might evolve from big tease to big shot.