Memphis Recruit and NIL Trailblazer Mikey Williams Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Gun Charges

Memphis Tigers basketball commit Mikey Williams pleaded not guilty to five charges of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of firing a deadly weapon at an occupied vehicle during an arraignment hearing on Thursday. According to police, Williams fired a gun at a carful of people who had just left his residence near San Diego. A San Diego County Sheriff’s Department incident report stated, “five people got into a car and as they were driving away, shots were fired.” The car was reportedly hit, but luckily, no one was hurt. Three of the passengers were minors. A search of Williams’s home preceded the arrest.[1]

Williams’s defense attorney Troy P. Owens claimed that these events transpired after an “altercation” at his client’s home. Bleacher Report revealed that there was allegedly an argument just after midnight that resulted in guests being asked to leave the premises. Superior Court Judge Louis R. Hanoian allowed Williams to appear in the court proceedings via videoconference because of potential security concerns stemming from public threats made online. Judge Hanoian told Williams that he could no longer possess guns or ammunition as a condition of remaining free on a $50,000 bond.[2]

The high-school-standout is set to appear at a readiness hearing on June 15. A readiness hearing is set shortly before trial to determine whether the case is ready to proceed. After that, Williams will be personally present for a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 29. If the 18-year-old Williams is convicted on all counts, he could face up to 28 years in prison. However, the Sheriff’s Department told ESPN that Williams will likely face just one charge.[3]

Mikey Williams is set to play for Penny Hardaway next season at the University of Memphis. He is ranked 34th in ESPN’s 2023 recruiting class and is one of the most popular amateur athletes on social media. His Instagram and TikTok accounts alone had amassed over 5.9 million followers before they were deleted after his arrest. Additionally, his highlights on YouTube have reached millions more people.

The 6’2” combo guard and his San Ysidro High School teammate J.J. Taylor are members of a six-man recruiting class that ranks number three in the county behind only blue-blood programs Kentucky and Duke. Williams is the highest-rated incoming player for the Tigers. In a statement released earlier this week, Memphis said that it was “aware of the situation” and “gathering more information.” Coach Hardaway also mentioned to The Commercial Appeal that he “didn’t have enough information” to comment on the case. For now, Williams will remain a part of Memphis’ plans for next season.[4]

Memphis Prospect Mikey Williams – Image from The San Diego Union-Tribune

California’s seventh-best college basketball prospect committed to Memphis in November of 2022 after receiving offers from Kansas, USC, LSU, Tennessee, Arizona State, San Diego State, Pittsburgh, New Mexico, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Jackson State, Oregon, Arkansas, and Texas Tech, among many others.[5]

Last July, Williams inked a deal with Excel Sports Management, becoming the first high school hoops star to sign with a major sports agency to pursue NIL endorsements. Four months later, Williams signed a multi-year deal with Puma, which made him the first American high school basketball player to agree to a sneaker deal with a global footwear company.[6]

Prior to Williams deleting his social media accounts, you would have scrolled past pictures of him posing with rappers like Drake and Da Baby or hanging out with NBA superstars like Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard. According to On3, a popular NIL platform and database, Williams had a NIL value of $3.3 million before his arrest. This is the fourth-highest number across all amateur athletes and trails only Bronny James for the most among basketball players. On3 estimates that Williams received about $51,000 per Instagram post, $2,800 per TikTok, and $215 per tweet for paid advertisements. His net worth is believed to have already reached approximately $7 million without ever stepping onto an NCAA or NBA court.[7]

Unfortunately, Williams’s arrest continues a trend of gun-related issues that have shocked both the college and professional basketball worlds. In February, New Mexico State canceled the rest of its season and fired head coach Greg Heiar after Mike Peake was involved in an alleged self-defense shooting. Furthermore, multiple players, coaches, and staff members from NMSU were connected to the aftermath of the incident and the apparent concealment of evidence.[8]

Somehow, the NMSU scandal wasn’t the only notable situation in February. Brandon Miller, the former Alabama Crimson Tide star and a projected top-five pick in this summer’s NBA draft, transported the firearm that was used in the killing of Jamea Jonae Harris. Former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man not affiliated with the team now face capital murder charges.[9]

The other two episodes involve promising young stars also connected to the city of Memphis. Emoni Bates, a former number-one recruit out of high school, played for the Tigers last year before his arrest for carrying a concealed weapon and “altering ID marks” on a firearm. Bates had recently transferred from Memphis back home to Eastern Michigan after a disappointing freshman season. The firearm was discovered by sheriff’s deputies after Bates failed to stop at an intersection and was pulled over.[10]

On March 4, Memphis Grizzlies phenom Ja Morant posted a video on his Instagram Live where he appeared to flash a gun at a nightclub in Glendale, Colorado. The incident took place just hours after the Grizzlies lost to the Denver Nuggets and depicted the NBA superstar in a visibly intoxicated state. Morant stepped away from the team to seek help and was suspended by the NBA for eight games without pay. Ja finds himself involved in a few other scandals too. The All-Star guard allegedly threatened a mall security guard officer during an altercation in the parking lot, fought a teenage boy during a pickup basketball game before re-emerging from his house with a gun in his waistband, and was inside a vehicle with friends who placed a red laser pointer on members of the Indiana Pacers as they left FedEx Forum after a game.


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Photo Credit:

Memphis Recruit Mikey Williams –

San Ysidro’s Mikey Williams –

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