Is the Kentucky basketball program moving on from Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams?
According to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, UK may have “backed away from the table” on the 6-foot-10 forward, who was planning on making a decision this past weekend.
“My sense is UK backed away from the table on Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams,” Tucker said in a tweet this afternoon. “There’s a lot going on there with a 24-year-old Class of 2016 guy who played for a home school team, had a lost year, then prep school, then ineligible year and has 18 career D1 games.”
“And frankly, I think John Calipari owed it to Keion Brooks (and the two top-50 HS forwards he recruited) to give them a crack at being the guy(s) at power forward,” Tucker continued in a follow-up tweet. “If Sarr gets a waiver, Kentucky has plenty in the frontcourt.”
On Williams’ end of things, the Evansville transfer is looking for a significant role at his next stop, choosing between a final four of Arkansas, Baylor, Kentucky, and Memphis.
In recent days, though, there have been rumblings that Williams – who will turn 24 years old in October – is scrambling a bit with his choices after taking a closer look at the rosters and his anticipated fit at each program.
With Kentucky, John Calipari and his staff recently signed Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr to join five-star forwards Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware as newcomers, with Keion Brooks Jr. also returning for a sophomore campaign. Rhode Island forward transfer Jacob Toppin – who is expected to use this season as a redshirt year, regardless of the NCAA’s upcoming decision on the one-time immediate transfer rule – is also on the roster.
“You have to look at the fact that there’s a lot of guys fighting for that four spot on that roster,” Williams’ coach and mentor, Kenny Roy told KSR. “You look at the point guard, [Devin] Askew, you look at the two five-star wings he brought in. Somebody’s got to be a two, and someone’s got to be a three. Sarr is at the five. So the way I see it is that there are a lot of guys fighting for that four spot.
“That’s not saying DeAndre won’t fight for that spot, I’ll never take away his competitiveness and how he can play. Like I said last time we talked, DeAndre comes in and takes what he wants. But it’s still worth mentioning that there are a lot of guys at the four spot, I didn’t know there were that many.”
KSR has also learned that Williams has been stressing shots, minutes, and an increased role with interested schools, something the UK coaching staff is never comfortable with guaranteeing to any potential recruit.
Outside of Kentucky, Arkansas is waiting on a draft decision from guard Isaiah Joe, while six new additions this offseason put the Razorbacks right at the scholarship limit. Baylor is in the same boat, waiting on two draft decisions – Jared Butler and MaCio Teague – along with three new signees in the class of 2020. Both teams have loaded rosters and would have to create space to add Williams.
There’s a bit of speculation that Memphis forward D.J. Jeffries could transfer this offseason, which could open up a scholarship spot on the roster. Until then, though, the Tigers are also full with 13 scholarships accounted for, including one for Virginia Tech transfer Landers Nolley, who may not even be eligible next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Even if Memphis clears space for Williams, the risk factor is there for two players taking up spots who would have to sit out as true transfers, something Penny Hardaway and his staff are hesitant to do.
With question marks at all four finalists, there is recent buzz that Williams – who still has his name in the NBA Draft – could move forward with his professional career or go back to the drawing board and re-open his recruitment.
Either way, it appears things are trending away from Kentucky to land the versatile forward.