This is the second installment of the State of the State of Tennessee Basketball Address.
What I’ve done here is list each player on the Vols roster by position and then give a little insight into each player and what to expect.
(3) Bobby Maze 6’2” Junior
(25) Josh Tabb 6’4” Junior
(10) Michael Hubert 6’2” Sophomore
(24) Tanner Wild 6’0” Senior
(2) Daniel West (academically ineligible) 6’1” Freshman
(32) Scotty Hopson 6’7” Freshman
(23) Cameron Tatum 6’6” Redshirt Freshman
(11) Quinn Cannington 6’4” Junior
(30) J.P. Prince 6’7” Junior
(0) Renaldo Woolridge 6’8” Freshman
(22) Steven Pearl 6’5” Sophomore
(1) Tyler Smith 6’7” Junior
(5) Emanuel Negedu 6’7” Freshman
(34) Ryan Childress 6’9” Senior
(4) Wayne Chism 6’9” Junior
(33) Brian Williams 6’10” Sophomore
(44) Phillip Jurick 6’10” Freshman
Projected starting 5
G- Bobby Maze
G- Scotty Hopson
F- J.P. Prince
F- Tyler Smith
C- Wayne Chism
According to Bruce Pearl, “He is hungry. He can lead a team and make other guys better. He is a pass-first, score-second guy, but he definitely knows how to score”.
Maze is quite fittingly nicknamed “the solution”, as he will be just that for a up-tempo Vols team that has been hurting at the point guard position. Maze is a solid true point guard who eerily resembles Allen Iverson.
During the open practices Maze even sported the Iverson arm sleeve to go with his headband. All that said it is important to note that Maze is a true winner. He formerly played on an AAU team with Kevin Durant (2008 NBA rookie of the year) and UNC’s Ty Lawson. I’m excited to see what this guy can do seeing that he is expected to get upwards of 30 minutes per game due to the lack of depth at the position.
He certainly has the work ethic to thrive at Tennessee having been noted for routinely staying late after practice to work with trainers on his shot stating that shooting is “all about confidence”.
Defensively minded guy that isn’t flashy but has always come in and played solid consistent minutes. In fact in his last 17 games he has managed to dish out 10 assists while only incurring four turnovers. During that stint he also led the Vols in steals three times.
It is also worth noting that Tabb had the fastest times on the team in both the 60-yard and 300-yard shuttle. What all that should tell you is that Tabb is a solid back up that can come in and not force things. Also keep an eye on him because Pearl sat him for the two exhibition games due to academic problems but he should be good to go for the season opener.
This guy is by far the biggest wild card on the team.
Up until the day of the first exhibition game Bruce Pearl had inadvertently deemed the walk-on point guard “Mark” not even knowing his real name. However with Daniel West ineligible, Tabb sidelined by Pearl, Tanner Wild injured, and J.P. Prince injured Hubert ended up backing up Maze in both exhibition games averaging 11 minutes per game.
Another fun fact about Hubert is that last year as a freshman he tried to walk on at UT-Chattanooga and was cut. However according to Pearl he is good enough to be his backup point guard.
A walk-on reserve point guard who is going to be sidelined until December with a back injury.
Declared academically ineligible because his test scores got flagged by the NCAA. I’m not entirely sure what all was involved with that but he will either have to remain a student and pay his own way (out of state tuition), or transfer to a prep school for a year.
It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out but West was going to be relied on heavily to back up Bobby Maze at the point.
Hopson is Tennessee’s first McDonald’s All-American since Vincent Yarborough back in 1998.
Hopson was ranked the number five overall player in the class of 2008 by rivals.com. As a senior Scotty averaged 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists leading his team to a 30-5 record. He was also the AP Kentucky Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Hopson was offered a scholarship by Kentucky, Louisville, Texas, Cincinnati, and Mississippi State, but Scotty decided he liked Bruce Pearl and the Tennessee system best so he came to Tennessee.
Scotty is a potential one-and-done guy but only time will tell if he’s ready for that. I really liked what I saw from him in the two exhibition games. He has a lot of talent but you can tell a good bit of it is raw and still developing. He is a great all around scoring guard but the biggest problem I see in him is his size. Although he has added 15 pounds since enrolling in June he still looks like he could get pushed around by a physical defender.
Tatum is an exciting guy to watch when he’s healthy. Unfortunately we haven’t seen a whole lot of that yet. After missing all of last season due to knee problems Tatum underwent arthroscopic surgery in October. He appears to be mostly healed though as he played in both exhibition games.
Tatum is a guy that averaged over 20 points per game for three seasons in high school and models his game after Carmelo Anthony. He is a very emotional player who plays with a lot of heart. Look for him to battle with Scotty Hopson for the starting position.
If you see Quinn in the game, it is either a really good or really bad sign. This may or may not be relevant, but Quinn was a very good Tyler Smith for Halloween.
"P.J." as Memphis coach John Calipari referred to him is the Arizona transfer who is cousin of Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince. J.P. is last seasons reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year. He is a very solid and athletic wingman that has from time to time been forced into running the point.
I went to high school with J.P. and he ran the point one year but that was just because he was the best player on the floor, not because he was a stellar point guard. He led White Station High School to three State Championships and a 142-12 record during his career there. The guy has more talent than he knows what to do with which is why you may have noticed Bruce Pearl being so hard on him.
If J.P. could just harness his abilities and play smart basketball he could definitely play at the next level. He got hurt in practice a few weeks ago but could be ready to return for the season opener.
Woolridge sure didn’t waste any time getting his name out there once he arrived on Rocky Top. Renaldo “aka the answer” “aka swiperboy” Woolridge is the son of the former NBA player Orlando Woolridge who played 13 seasons in the NBA. At 6’8” Renaldo definitely has the size and potential to follow his fathers legacy.
It was questionable how much playing time he would see this season before practice started but Renaldo has really hit the weight room and bulked up a little and worked on his outside range and really worked his way into the rotation.
In the second exhibition game against Tusculum Renaldo had a team high 15 points including 3 three point shots. Renaldo also had the highest max jump on the team this fall with a vertical of 43.5 inches. If he can continue to play well consistently look for him to keep finding himself in the middle of the rotation.
As Bruce Pearl’s son Steven comes in and plays some tough, hard earned minutes. He is just a guy who works hard and helps those around him perform better. For example Tyler Smith credits Steven Pearl for helping him improve his offensive game because of how tough Pearl is on him in practices.
Pearl will probably never see a ton of minutes under his dad but when he comes in fans should be rest assured that his minutes will be worthwhile. Steven has also really bulked up benching 185 pounds a team-high 25 reps (he could only do 5 when he arrived as a freshman).
The former Iowa transfer almost speaks for himself as he is number one swingman in the nation according to rivals.com. He is also rated the SEC’s preseason player of the year and the SEC’s top NBA prospect.
Tyler attended the Lebron James Skills Academy over the summer and has really been working to improve on his three point shot. Early indication from the open practices and preseason games that I’ve attended points to a dramatic improvement.
I would look for Tyler to easily average a double double and find himself a lottery pick in next summers NBA draft.
“E-Man”, as he tells me the ladies call him, is from Nigeria and is an absolute stud athlete who can play the forward or center position.
Negedu originally committed to Arizona then later backed out and signed with the Vols. He has a 40 inch standing vertical leap and he ran a 3.02 in the three-fourths court sprint, which is the NBA equivalent of the 40-yard dash. If he had locked in that time at a NBA combine it would’ve ranked in the top 10 times ever posted.
Look for Negedu to not get a significant amount of minutes though because of the Vols depth but he should see some time providing a spark off the bench and could be a defensive asset.
“Chilly” is a forward who interestingly says he models his game after Wally Szczerbiak. Ryan has been sidelined ever since suffering a dislocated kneecap in a pick up game on June 11th. He is the only scholarship player on Tennessee’s roster that is a senior.
I wouldn’t look for Chilly to contribute too much this season even once he returns from his injury sometime in December. The guy has some skills to offer but ideally by the time he is healthy the Vols will already have a fairly routine rotation.
Chism is definitely the funniest player on the team, but more importantly he was voted second team All-SEC team at the center position by the coaches. Wayne generally flirts with double double numbers in each game and I would look for that streak to continue or even progress.
For a guy that only started playing basketball seriously in 2005, Brian Williams is really coming along well. In that same time frame he has also dropped 107 pounds. The way he plays you would never really now of his inexperience because he plays a very smooth style of offense often looking to dish the ball and also hits the boards well.
I’d look for Williams to see some pretty significant minutes and continue to contribute pretty significantly.
Not to state the obvious but my next-door neighbor, Phillip Jurick, is a very big guy.
Additionally he is a very big project.
Jurick is a solid rebounder and has good shot blocking skills (once had 21 blocks in one game in high school) but he simply doesn’t have the basketball IQ yet to see many minutes.
In fact, don’t really expect him to necessarily be in the rotation at all as a freshman. Jurick didn’t actually ever even play basketball until his freshman year of high school when over the previous summer he grew from 5’9” to 6’3”.
I would look for coach Pearl to continue to work on him and possibly by next season or his junior year maybe start to see some minutes. The Vols finally have enough size where it won’t necessarily to rush his development.
I’ve provided a lot of information here that may not be worth reading from start to finish but you can at least use this as a reference guide to familiarize yourself with this years team.