Interview with new UT assistant basketball Jon Harris
Interview with new UT assistant basketball Kent Williams
Both the 29-year-old Williams and the 30-year-old Harris wore black workout shirts and white Vols' game shorts with all the trimmings, including the school's Power-T logo.
"I think it helps we're not too far removed from where they are,'' said the 6-foot-7 Harris, who played from 1998-2002 at Marquette, a run that included a season playing beside Miami Heat all-star Dwyane Wade.
"There's nothing the players will see that we haven't already been through ourselves as players,'' said Harris, who was hired March 28. "In practices, we'll get out there and mix it up with them, and I think that will also help build the relationships.''
The Vols had three individual workout sessions involving three players going for 30 minutes at a time on Monday.
Harris manned the so-called "pad," hitting players as they took shots, while coach Cuonzo Martin, a defensive stalwart during his playing career from 1991-95 at Purdue, jumped in and worked strip-and-rip drills.
Williams, 29, quickly will translate into a shooting coach. He led Southern Illinois in scoring all four years he played for the Salukis (1999-2003) and was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 2010.
"Shooting and scoring is kind of my thing, and being a playmaker, so I'm really anxious to work with these guys, breaking down their game, finding different areas they could take advantage of the defense,'' said the 6-2 Williams, who after his career at Southern Illinois played in the NBA Development League, leading the league in 3-point shooting percentage and 3-pointers made.
"Teaching them to take advantage of their strengths and hide their weaknesses, that's my favorite part of the job,'' said Williams, who accepted a position on the staff on Saturday. "We'll work with the players on the court from time to time to let them see what we expect.''
Both Harris and Williams were encouraged by what they saw out of the returning players on Monday.
"I think the guys are looking forward to something new; the energy level today was high, they played hard and they competed,'' said Harris, who captained Marquette to a 26-7 record and No. 9 national ranking his senior year with the Golden Eagles. "We're set up well to have success. We just have to put the work in.''
Martin, Harris and Williams all have an idea of what to expect from the Vols, having played them in November in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Thompson-Boling Arena. Williams has added insight, having studied UT for Missouri State's scouting report.
At Missouri State, Martin rotated the scouting reports between his three assistants, a practice he's expected to continue with the Vols, according to his assistants.
Both Harris and Williams, who served as Martin's assistants during his three years as the Bears' head coach, said they're eager to hit the recruiting trail.
The Vols had two signees in the Class of 2011 prior to Martin's hire on March 27, both guards. Over the past week, Kevin Ware of Rockdale County High School in Conyers, Ga., has been released from his National of Letter of Intent, and Chris Jones of Melrose High School in Memphis has requested a release that's pending.
Martin said he will meet with both players later this week before moving forward on the signing class.
UT has between four and six scholarships available, depending on whether All-SEC junior Scotty Hopson and/or freshman All-America pick Tobias Harris return for another season with the Vols after making themselves eligible for the NBA Draft by April 24. The players have until May 7 to return to UT with eligibility, provided they do not sign with agents.