Wes Washpun, a 6-1, 163-pounder from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, believes he has a skill set that fits together nicely with that of sophomore Trae Golden, who projects to be the Vols' starting point guard this season.
"My defensive-mindedness and my ability to pass the ball really complements Trae a lot because he's more of an offensive attacker," Washpun said recently. "I feel like our games complement each other well. I'm a very defensive-minded, pass-first type of point guard."
Washpun's showing in early workouts already has impressed one Vol veteran.
"Wes is a very athletic point guard, a very hard worker who wants to get better," senior wing Cameron Tatum said. "College is different than high school and you need to learn how to be that floor general but that's what a lot of freshman point guards face. He's a good defender already and I know Coach (Cuonzo) Martin's workouts will make him a great defender. I know he'll be a great asset for us."
Washpun says he already is feeling comfortable with Tennessee's motion offense. It's a lot like the one he ran at Washington High School last winter.
"It's a very similar offense. It's not too different," he said. "My high school coach took a lot of his offenses from different college coaches."
Although the offenses are similar, Washpun faces one difficult adjustment as he evolves from high school point guard to college point guard.
"The biggest difference would probably be my ability to talk," he said. "I have to be a lot louder. I have to communicate with the guys. In high school I could just lead by example and have everybody follow me. Here I have to talk and be expressive, let everybody know where everybody's supposed to be on defense and on offense. That's probably the biggest difference."
Washpun faces no such adjustment on defense. He comes to Tennessee with a reputation as a stopper.
"My strength? I would definitely say my defense because that's what I've prided myself on the most, ever since I was little," he said. "My defensive intensity and my ability to guard has really transferred well to the college level."
Golden averaged 29 points per game as a high school senior and brings a scorer's mentality to the point guard position. Washpun brings a defensive mindset, so the two should provide a good 1-2 punch.
"I definitely see my role being able to come in behind Trae," Washpun said. "Trae does a really good job and is a really good point guard. Being able to help him out when he needs a break, jump in there, give it my all and really turn it on for the team, I feel like we can have a good transition there."