KNOXVILLE – Keyen Green went the grad transfer route this spring because the former Liberty University standout felt “capped out” at the mid-major level.
“I needed more of challenge,” the 6-foot-1 forward said.
That’s saying something, considering the challenge of unknowingly playing with a fractured right ankle and torn ligaments didn’t prevent her from becoming Big South Conference player of the year as a sophomore in 2017-18.
More than a few Division I schools endorsed Green’s perspective.
Within a day after putting her name in the transfer portal, she estimated that more than 50 DI schools contacted her. She characterized the response as “overwhelming” but also affirming.
“I knew I was going to be able to get where I wanted to go,” she said.
Tennessee entered the process later than some other schools. Yet Green still signed with the Lady Vols earlier this month.
Turns out timing had something to do with her decision. She was leaning toward Texas until Karen Aston was fired. Green said that a preference for being coached by a woman factored into her decision.
“I wanted to be behind a female in a position of power,” she said. “I wanted to learn from her and be mentored.”
With the coronavirus pandemic preventing campus visits, Green did her own research as well. While also weighing Kentucky and Maryland, Green said that such UT players as Rennia Davis and Jordan Horston made the Lady Vols a viable consideration regarding talent.
“It was crazy how everything fell into place,” she said.
Tennessee still is piecing together its roster for next season. The Lady Vols added an international player on Thursday, getting a commitment from Marta Suarez Rodriguez, a 6-2 freshman-to-be forward from Oviedo, Spain.
Suarez Rodriguez played for Spain’s U17 Women’s World Cup team in 2018. Last season, she played for a team in Barcelona, averaging 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
UCLA, Duke and Washington also were recruiting Suarez Rodriguez, who turns 18 on May 7. Her versatility will allow her to play as many as four different positions on the court.
Suarez Rodriguez’s addition puts the Lady Vols roster at 12 players for next season. Earlier this spring, they lost guard Jazmine Massengill from Chattanooga, who transferred to Kentucky, and guard Zaay Green, who left the team.
Coach Kellie Harper and her staff are believed to be still searching the transfer portal for potential players. They’re not just checking out graduate students either. The Lady Vols still haven’t addressed the void at point guard left by Massengill’s departure.
There’s probably still a decent selection of players to consider. More than 300 players have entered the portal this spring with more than 100 coming from Power-5 schools.
Along with Kentucky, Ole Miss and Arkansas have upgraded their rosters with significant additions via transfer.
Green believes that the majority of this movement has been inspired by players trying to better themselves, which was her intention. The NCAA Division I Council is voting May 20 on a one-time transfer waiver, which could encourage more movement.
“I think this is the way college basketball is going and it’s not stopping,” Green said. “Get with it or get left, that’s what I say.”
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 email@example.com.