Mikey Williams, the former Memphis basketball signee, announced his verbal commitment to UCF on Friday.
“All I needed was a chance,” Williams wrote on Instagram under multiple photos of him in a UCF uniform.
The news comes just days after the 19-year-old guard made it known he was formally cutting ties with the 13th-ranked Tigers. It is unclear whether Williams will be eligible to play immediately for the Knights.
Williams signed with Memphis in November 2022. But his path to play for coach Penny Hardaway became impeded following his April 2023 arrest on felony gun charges stemming from a shooting that took place outside his California mansion in March 2023.
More than eight months of legal drama ensued, and Williams was facing a jury trial that was set to begin Dec. 14. But on Dec. 1, he reached a plea agreement with San Diego County prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to one felony charge (making criminal threats), which will be reduced to a misdemeanor in August as long as he avoids any more legal issues and hits a series of court-ordered benchmarks (gun safety and anger management courses as well as community service hours). The other eight felony charges were dropped.
Even with the plea deal, however, the University of Memphis would not permit Williams to officially join the basketball team before completing a thorough process. Williams grew frustrated and began seeking other opportunities with the hope they might expedite his path to playing college basketball sooner rather than later.
Troy P. Owens Jr., Williams’ attorney, issued a statement this week outlining why Williams cut ties with Memphis.
“It became clear to Mr. Williams that having him play this season was not a priority for the University,” the statement reads. “What was even more frustrating was that Mr. Williams learned that the committee [review] was also going to decide whether, or not, he would be allowed to play in the 2024-25 season even after being sentenced to a misdemeanor.
“Remaining on the roster at the University of Memphis meant that, had the committee ruled that Mr. Williams could NOT play in the 2024-2025 season, he faced the possibility of missing two years of basketball,” Owens’ statement said, according to On3. “This was not something that Mr. Williams was willing to risk.”
On Wednesday, Hardaway said he supported Williams’ decision to move on. In addition to Williams’ decision, Memphis freshman (and Williams’ close friend) JJ Taylor also announced his intention to transfer.
“(Williams) has the right to do what he needs to do for himself, and I wish him well,” Hardaway said.
Throughout Williams’ legal saga, Hardaway repeatedly voiced staunch public support for the star recruit. And he said he would do it again if given the chance.
“That’s what I’m in this business for — to stick my neck out on the line for kids and young men, and hope that they appreciate it,” he said. “I think those young men (Williams and Taylor) both have bright futures, and they have every right to do what they want. I really wanted to coach both, I really did. Mikey and I still are in touch. But he has a right to do what he needs to do for himself, and I wish him well. I’m still gonna stay in touch with him, for sure.”
Reach sports writer Jason Munz at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @munzly on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter.