Brian Williams rejoins Vols

Saturday's Tennessee-South Carolina basketball game saw Vol junior Brian Williams suit up for the first time since he was suspended following a highly publicized traffic stop on Jan. 1.

Williams, a 6-10, 270-pounder from the Bronx, did not see action in the game but participated in pregame warmups and sat on the Vol bench throughout the 79-53 victory.

He and teammates Tyler Smith, Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins were arrested New Year's Day on drug and weapons charges when two handguns, an opened bottle of liquor and some marijuana were found in the rental car Tatum was driving.

Smith, who admitted owning the guns, was dismissed from the team a week later. Tatum and Goins served four-game suspensions before being reinstated on Jan. 17. They played key backup roles the past couple of games. Williams, whose name reportedly was on the bag containing the marijuana, rejoined the team mere hours before Saturday's 6 o'clock tipoff.

"I have said all along that each individual involved in last month's incident would be treated fairly — not necessarily treated the same — but treated fairly," head coach Bruce Pearl said in a UT release. "From the time that he was suspended, Brian missed half the remaining season.

"As we've worked through this process, we have tried to learn, grow and move forward in a positive direction."

Following the South Carolina win, the coach was asked about Williams' slimmer physique.

"Stress has a way of taking pounds off," Pearl joked, subsequently adding: "It's good to have Brian back. He was very, very grateful, very emotional about being back."

As to when Williams might contribute in an actual game again, the coach left that question unanswered.

"We'll go from here," Pearl said. "He wants to continue to do positive things. The team was happy that he was there, and he was happy that he was there.

"We'll work him in but I don't think the rotation is going to change."

Whereas Saturday was a memorable day for Williams, it may prove forgettable for one of his fellow suspended players. Tatum suffered an injury to his left ankle with 1:01 left in the first half of the South Carolina game and did not play thereafter.

"It didn't look good," Pearl conceded. "It did NOT look good. That ankle came down pretty severely. He's going to go and get x-rays, then we'll just have to see. I can't speculate."

Tatum, a 6-6 sophomore wing, was 0 for 3 from the field with one rebound in eight minutes vs. South Carolina. In his previous four games since returning from the suspension, however, he averaged 12.5 minutes per game and hit 7 of 12 shots.

"Cameron was playing very, very well," Pearl said. "Cameron had been really efficient with his play."

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