In the spring, Tennessee was dangerously low on point guards. The position was so depleted that Lady Vol forward Rennia Davis thought she’d have to moonlight as a backup.
That was then. Now the Lady Vols are three deep at the crucial position as they prepare for their women’s basketball season. Graduate transfer Jordan Walker’s arrival this summer from Western Michigan spelled relief for Davis.
The 5-foot-8 Walker has two years of eligibility left. Her poise and toughness have made an impression on Davis, enough for her to say: “She just adds something to the point guard spot that I don’t think we have had in a while.”
Davis sounded even more impressed with Destiny Salary, a 6-0 freshman from Jonesboro, Ark., who committed and signed with UT last November.
Although she didn’t preview as a point guard, Salary has shown a capability for handling the duty.
“She already has a great personality,” Davis said last week during a Zoom video conference, “but then she has this confidence about her as well. So, all that tied together, she can play and has probably done more than most of us expected.
“…the first thing she told me is she didn’t come here to sit on the bench.”
With that thought in mind, UT coach Kellie Harper said that Salary and returning point guard Jordan Horston both will play at off-guard as well.
Green power: Another grad transfer, post Keyen Green, will shore up another position that needed an upgrade.
The 6-1 redshirt senior came to UT from Liberty. ESPN’s Graham Hays ranked the former Big South Conference player of the year No. 15 among his Top 50 freshmen and transfers regarding potential impact this season.
Harper described Green’s work ethic as “unbelievable.”
“I think she took four charges in one practice,” Harper said. “This is a tough, hard-nosed kid that wants the basketball and if you don’t throw it to her, she’ll just go get the rebound.”
In those rankings, Hays had former Lady Vols guard Evina Westbrook, now at Connecticut, ranked third.
In other related matters:
-While Tennessee hasn’t finalized a schedule, Harper expects the non-conference game against Connecticut to go on as originally scheduled on Jan. 21 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
-Senior center Kasi Kushkituah, who’s had an underwhelming career to date, has had a terrific offseason and has been “really, really good” in preseason practice, according to Harper.
-Davis indicated she’s not thinking at present about whether to use an extra season’s worth of eligibility afforded by the COVID-19 pandemic rather than proceed to the WNBA next season. But she did say, “I’m not closed to anything right now.”
-Freshman forward Tess Darby will be back on the court next week after being sidelined for treatment of a stress reaction in her shins.
-Harper, who favors playing many players, is more comfortable with UT’s depth this season. “They come to practice every day, they want to play,” she said. “I think when they go out there and earn playing time, I want to reward them with that.”
Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.