Two years ago, it was hard to imagine the Tennessee Lady Vols ever being longer than what Kellie Harper put together. His focus on playing backwards, building the program in the mold of Pat Summitt, was the way to make UT even better.
Well, now they’ve even surpassed that. With Alexus Dye, Rae Burrell and Keyen Green all graduating and Emily Saunders transferring, Harper has used the offseason to strengthen his frontcourt. She added a former player to her with the Missouri State Lady Bears in transfer forward Jasmine Franklin.
Mississippi State Bulldogs transfer forward Rickea Jackson and five-star winger Justine Pissott have also joined the Tennessee Lady Vols. On Saturday, they completed their depth by adding Georgia Bulldogs transfer center Jillian Hollingshead, according to Maria M. Cornelius of GoVols247.
Hollingshead builds depth in the frontcourt behind Tamari Key. It was the only missing piece for UT. Last year, she averaged more than five points and two and a half rebounds in just under 13 minutes per game and won back-to-back SEC Freshman of the Week awards.
McDonald’s All-American, Hollingshead is 6’5″ and traded after Joni Taylor took over as head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies. With her on board, it’s official. Rocky Top should easily be the favorite to win the national title next year. They can now go three deep anywhere.
Last year, UT moved up to 4th before Green and Jordan Horston were injured. Horston will be back to full health, and Green and Dye were offset at four by the additions of Jackson, who averaged more than 20 points per game last year, and Franklin, who won the defensive player award. of the Year from the Missouri Valley Conference.
They made it into the top five despite Burrell missing the first half of the season through injury. Well, Pissott is coming, and 2021 All-SEC rookie Marta Suarez is back after missing all of last year through injury, so they should actually increase production on the wing.
All Big Ten point guard Jasmine Powell traded from the Minnesota Golden Gophers to join the Tennessee Lady Vols, adding depth at playmaking in Jordan Walker and Brooklynn Miles, who are both returning. Then there are returning snipers Tess Darby and Sara Puckett. Jesse Rennie is still there too.
Simply put, Rocky Top is loaded. Depth killed them last year, especially in the position after Green was injured. Now they can go three deep at any position there. Hollingshead and Striplin can compete for the No. 2 spot behind Key, and Key herself will be under a lot of pressure.
Playing an upside-down game with length, sniping and sniping on the wing was the goal of Harper and the Tennessee Lady Vols. It’s pretty clear that they have it now, and as a result, they should be the No.1 team in the country next year. Even another season surrounded by injuries shouldn’t delay them. That’s how bad they are now.