Oldest Player In College Basketball Seeks Waiver For Sixth Year Of Eligibility

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DeAndre Williams is attempting to return to college basketball for a sixth year. If it comes to fruition, he would be the oldest player in the sport, again.

Williams, a 6-foot-9, 205-pound forward, hails from the Houston, Texas area. He was initially a three-star recruit in the Class of 2016— seven years ago.

Born on October 4, 1996, Williams was already behind in regard to his age and academic standing.

After his junior season at Klein Forest High School, he enrolled at the Sports Association of Texas for Christian Homeschoolers with hopes of qualifying for an NCAA Division I scholarship. Williams graduated, but he reclassified into the Class of 2017 and played a postgraduate season in Oklahoma City.

Before even getting to college, Williams was a year behind the rest of his initial recruiting class. That’s not particularly uncommon in the elite athletic space. People take postgrad years.

What happened next, though, made his career even more unique.

Williams committed to play for Evansville, but was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for his freshman season. He was allowed to keep his scholarship and practice with the team after a waiver, but could not play in games.

As a result, Williams’ college career technically started in 2018/19. He didn’t see the court until 2019/20.

Williams averaged 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in his first year, but had it cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He later entered the transfer portal.

With two years of eligibility down, he transferred to Memphis. And then the NCAA approved a blanket waiver for all 2020 athletes, so he got a year back.

Williams had three years of eligibility left upon arrival to west Tennessee in 2020-21. He played 82 games with the Tigers over the course of three seasons.

His final game, so we all thought, was against FAU in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.

DeAndre Williams’ college career was over. Or was it?

On May 30, 2023, Williams’ mother told The Commercial Appeal that his son was done with college basketball at the age of 26.

He’s not coming back. He played three years. He won’t be back.

— Samantha Williams, via The Commercial Appeal

Well, that may not be true. Williams might be coming back.

The season that he lost at Evansville was classified as a “year-in-residence” which meant that it counted against his four (five because of COVID) seasons of eligibility. There is a chance that Williams could get that year added back on to his career.

One day after his mother said that her son is not returning, Williams said that he would welcome a return.

If the opportunity to return existed, I would welcome it and be proud to suit up for the Tigers in 2023-24 […]

I have operated under the assumption that I did not have remaining eligibility but have been advised in recent days that regaining a season of competition is a real possibility.

My mother is the rock of my life. I owe her everything and will always be loyal and grateful to her.

At the time that her comments were made, she was not fully apprised of the circumstances surrounding my decision.

— DeAndre Williams, via The Commercial Appeal

So what needs to happen?

Williams is working with sports attorney Don Jackson and would have to apply for a waiver regarding his “year-in-residence,” if he hasn’t already. It would be up to the NCAA’s discretion whether to grant him that waiver.

Jackson represented Memphis coach Penny Hardaway in the NCAA infractions case that came to a close in 2022. He has represented multiple athletes in the past who have applied, and received, a waiver.

It is his hope that Williams will be the next. The only issue is time. There is a rush to get things figured out, because Williams would turn pro if he cannot play another year in college.

Thus, with that understanding, Jackson will hope to get Memphis and the NCAA all of the new information in the next week or so. The clock is ticking!

If Williams is granted an additional season, he would turn 27 in October.

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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