Board games become part of Tennessees road game routine The Herald

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They kicked my butt in the beginning. More recently, they say Im on a hot streak, Williams said, using air quotes with his fingers to dismiss that notion. Ive won almost every game lately, so I feel like Im the alpha of Catan. Everyone who thinks Brads the alpha, Im the omega.

But its not what most would expect. These guys arent emulating NBA or NFL stars on video games. No, when some of the thranked Vols compete against one another in their hotel, they prefer board games.

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Their immediate focus is their first opponent Friday in the SEC Tournament, then what they hope will be a long run in the NCAA Tournament. And that journey will no doubt include their vorite board game.

Off the court, Williams who also can play multiple musical instruments said his love for board games stems from iling to beat his grandther at chess. Williams said hes the best Settlers of Catan player on the team, though thats a matter of debate.

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Board games become part of Tennessees road game routine The Herald

Williams, the son of a NASA engineer who picked Tennessee over Ivy League schools, has emerged as Tennessees leading scorer and a unanimous firstteam allSEC selection. SEC coaches named the foot sophomore the leagues player of the year.

FILE In this Feb. , , file photo, Tennessee forward Grant Williams

I wish we could have a Catan tournament in the NCAAs, Williams said. On an off day, you go to a hotel room and find out whos the best team both in the NCAAs and also Catan.

Of course, any plans for a jam session will have to wait.

Their game of choice is Settlers of Catan, in which players attempt to eslish settlements by collecting resources such as brick, lumber, wool, grain and ore. Sophomore forward Grant Williams saw some teammates playing the game and liked it so much that he bought one himself.

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FILE In this Feb. , , file photo, Tennessee forward Grant Williams

drives the ball around Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes

Vols ns would settle for SEC and NCAA tournament titles.

It lets us spend more time with the team, lets us get closer to each other, instead of spending our time on the phone, said Yves Pons, a freshman forward from France.

Those roadtrip board games have apparently been a goodluck charm Tennessee is away from home this season heading into its SEC Tournament quarterfinal with Mississippi State on Friday in St. Louis. It might have been a good thing for the Vols if they had started the routine sooner they went a combined outside ThompsonBoling Arena in coach Rick Barnes first two seasons.

It goes back and forth a lot, Woodson said. Starting out, Lucas won quite a few, then I won a couple. Grants been pretty hot lately. Hes won one or two.

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Tennessees Settlers of Catan regulars include Williams, Pons, Woodson and walkon guard Lucas Campbell. Fifthyear senior guard James Daniel III, freshman forward Zach Kent and team manager Sam Tarver also have participated.

A handful of Vols have been playing Settlers of Catan on every road trip while Tennessee , SEC has made its surprising push toward an NCAA Tournament berth. Walkon guard Brad Woodson said a few players even spent New Years Eve playing Settlers of Catan, Monopoly and other board games as the clock struck midnight.

The teams offcourt bonding activities arent limited to board games. The Vols also arent bashful when it comes to their musical talents.

He is so strong and hes so disciplined with his ability to post with ultimate physicality the entire game hes on the floor, Florida coach Mike White said after Williams scored points in a victory over the Gators . I thought he wore us down.

The Vols dont have a single top recruit according to the Sports Composite , and the SEC media poll predicted they would finish th out of teams. Instead, the Vols captured a share of the SECs regularseason title.

Board games become part of Tennessees road game routine

Tennessee sure wasnt the cool pick in the SEC this season.

A video circulated on social media a couple of years ago of forward Admiral Schofield playing the guitar while forward Kyle Alexander sang Im Yours by Jason Mraz. Pons can play the saxophone. Williams has played as many as nine instruments, including the piano, violin and clarinet.

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Each time Tennessee goes on the road, the games start long before the Volunteers take the floor.

Im a board game of guy, Williams said. So I just bought probably six or seven board games that night. I bought Catan, Sorry, two Monopolys, Trouble.

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When Alexander was asked this season about a name for a potential band featuring all the musical Vols, he jokingly suggested, Kyle and The Others.

Were trying to get other guys to join and participate, but some guys are trying to play the toocool route, Williams said.

We need Yves to get his saxophone from France and also I need to do a better job back to playing the piano, Williams quipped. With that, Id just say its going to take some time.

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