Memphis basketball recruit Mikey Williams faces gun charge

Mikey Williams, an elite and popular basketball prospect who is set to attend Memphis next season, was arrested Thursday in San Diego on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

San Diego Sheriff's Department Lt. Gavin Lanning said Williams -- ranked 34th in ESPN's list of the top 100 recruits in the 2023 class -- paid a $50,000 bond and was released at 12:14 a.m. Friday. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday.

There are multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon against Williams, according to police documents, but he is likely to face one charge, according to Lanning. Williams is accused of violating California penal code Chapter 9, Section 245(a)(2), which involves "any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a firearm." The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison.

In a statement, Memphis said it was "aware of the situation and [is] gathering more information."

According to the incident report released Friday, there was an argument at a home on Monday evening and multiple people were asked to leave the residence.

"Five people got into a car and as they were driving away, shots were fired," according to the sheriff's department incident report. "The car was hit, but no one was hurt."

Williams was arrested after a search warrant was executed. Multiple minors were in the car. The sheriff's office said it will not release Williams' booking photo because by policy it releases such photos only "when there is an immediate threat to public safety."

Williams has retained Troy P. Owens, a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. Per Owens' statement, released Friday night, the alleged shooting unfolded at Williams' home after an "altercation."

"This altercation was initiated by several uninvited individuals entering the home and causing a disturbance," Owens' statement said. "During the aftermath of this disturbance, there were reports of shots being fired. Mr. Williams is alleged to match the description of the shooter. As a result, a search warrant was executed at the home and Mr. Williams was arrested. He has posted bond and looks forward to addressing any allegations against him using the established procedures in our justice system."

The statement continued, "we ask that people appreciate the fact that Mr. Williams is an 18-year-old high school student. Harassment, threats, or any other behavior of the sort is unwarranted. We are aware of several narratives being advanced online that are not factual and are designed to humiliate Mr. Williams. We are confident that the truth will come to light. Mr. Williams is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."

Williams has been a well-known name in the grassroots basketball world since early in his high school career, when he became a YouTube sensation with his highlight videos. He was named the 2019-20 MaxPreps national freshman basketball player of the year at San Ysidro (California) before transferring to Lake Norman Christian (North Carolina).

He had nearly 4 million Instagram followers at the time of his commitment to Memphis and has more than 2 million TikTok followers. In October 2021, Williams became the first American high school basketball player to sign a sneaker deal with a global footwear company when he reached a multiyear endorsement deal with Puma.

Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard, was a prized recruit in Penny Hardaway's next recruiting class. Though he had toyed with potentially attending a historically Black college a couple of years ago, Williams ultimately chose to play with the Tigers. He signed a letter of intent with Hardaway's program in November.

Williams' arrest continues a spate of gun-related problems that have rocked college basketball this year. In February, New Mexico State canceled its season and fired coach Greg Heiar after one of his players was involved in what police called a self-defense shooting. Multiple players and coaches from NMSU were attached to the aftermath of that incident, according to police and school investigations.

Also in February, police said Brandon Miller, the former Alabama star and a projected top-five pick in this summer's NBA draft, transported the weapon that was used in the killing of Jamea Jonae Harris that resulted in murder charges against former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man.