Andraya Carter has received early kudos from the Tennessee coaching staff for her work ethic, which is rare praise for a freshman. Carter has been on the court for individual workouts with sophomore Ariel Massengale and senior Kamiko Williams, and all indications are that the newcomer has no issues with keeping pace.
Head coach emeritus Pat Summitt walked through the lobby of Pratt Pavilion while Carter was handling the interview and said, “She gets it.” That is high praise from Summitt, whose patience has been tested by freshmen for nearly four decades.
“I am just so appreciative of everything I have here,” said a sweat-soaked Carter after her court workout. “I have amazing teammates. I have great coaches, great staff and strength coaches, great trainers.”
That is a quintessential Carter answer. When asked about praise about her, she cites the support around her.
“I have everything here that I need to be a great basketball player,” Carter said. “It would be a shame for anyone to let that go to waste. My mom has always said that she thinks basketball at Tennessee is my platform that God has given me, and she thinks this is where God wants me to be. I want to take that and run with it.
“I want to work so hard so that I am able to influence people with basketball. I am not there yet. We haven’t even played a game yet, but I want people to watch me and know that I am playing for Knoxville, I am playing for God, I am playing for my family and I am doing this for me but for something bigger.”
The Lady Vols are a young team this season – five players have yet to play a game – and the most experienced post player is a sophomore. Lindy’s, a preseason basketball magazine, had Tennessee ranked No. 23 in its poll and subsequent polls are likely to be all over the place as the Lady Vols are an unknown with so many newcomers.
“We’re trying not to think about the rankings,” Carter said. “We just want to keep working hard. We’re going to keep pushing. We had a team meeting and coach Holly said whatever people on the outside think, it doesn’t matter.
“We’re focusing on who’s in the room, who’s on the team. We’re focusing on us.”
Carter is one of the Pat Summitt trio – the three players who had committed before Summitt’s diagnosis of dementia and who never wavered on their decision to come to Tennessee and signed their letters of intent last November. The other two are freshmen Bashaara Graves and Jasmine Jones.
Summitt is a regular presence with the team – she has been at Pratt for the workouts – and is now in the emeritus role. Holly Warlick has succeeded her lifelong mentor and is embarking on her first season as a head coach.
“We all want it for Holly,” Carter said. “It would have been nice to be able to get Coach Summitt her last national championship, but it is even more of a blessing to get Holly her first.
“That is what we are pushing for. We want everyone to see that Holly knows what she is doing. She is a great basketball coach, and coach Summitt gave her this coaching job for a reason.
“I think it is our job to do what she says, work as hard as we can and show that we’re still Tennessee and coach Holly is the head coach of the Lady Vols.”
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