Grant Williams’ NBA dream came true Thursday night.
The former Providence Day star and two-time SEC player of the year at Tennessee was drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics. As the pick went up on ESPN, dozens of Williams’ close friends and family — and the entire coaching staff from Providence Day — bathed him in hugs and cheers at a draft party in Ballantyne.
“Man, I’m blessed,” said Williams, 20. “It means the world because a team like Boston is historically great. My grandfather loves the team.”
Williams, a 6-foot-8 power forward, led Providence Day to the 2016 N.C. Independent Schools state championship, beating a High Point Christian team that featured future Kentucky star and NBA lottery pick Bam Adebayo.
In college, Williams became the first two-time SEC player of the year at his school since the ‘90s. As a junior last season, he averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists, earning All-American honors.
Thursday, he became the ninth Tennessee player since 1968 selected in the first round of the NBA draft and the first since Tobias Harris in 2011.
“I’m amazed and I’m excited to get out there,” Williams said of heading to Boston. “I’m excited to wear that Celtic green and to be able to compete on the court for coach Brad Stevens and my teammates ... (Boston officials) said ‘Enjoy the moment and enjoy the night. We’ll talk when things settle down.’ They said, ‘We’re glad to have you,’ and I’m glad to be a part of the organization. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Williams was the third of the Celtics’ first-round picks Thursday night. Boston took Indiana guard Romeo Langford at No. 14. The Celtics chose Washington guard Mattise Thybulle at No. 20 but planned to send his rights to Philadelphia.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Williams plays with a point guard’s mind.