Interestingly enough, Wayne Chism was a second-team All-SEC pick in preseason. Three more heralded big men - Kentucky's Patrick Patterson, Vanderbilt's A.J. Ogilvy and Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado - were tabbed first-team selections ahead of him.
Chism wouldn't admit it at the time but now concedes that the preseason snub motivated him.
"I was picked on the second team during the preseason, and that really inspired me to work hard and prove I could be a first-team player," Chism said in a UT release. "I knew if I continued to work hard and do the right things I could get there. I want to thank my teammates and coaches for helping to push me and encourage me along the way. But we still have a lot of work to do.
"My teammates ... the way they've played this year — and how we've come together — they made this possible. It's a big honor."
Chism already holds the honors of playing in more games (135) and participating in more wins (99) than any player in program history.
Interestingly enough, Chism is the only center listed on the All-SEC first team. The squad's other big men - Kentucky's Patterson (6-9, 240) and DeMarcus Cousins (6-11, 270), Vandy's Ogilvy (6-11, 250) and Georgia's Trey Thompkins (6-10, 247) are listed as forwards.
During Chism's time on The Hill Tennessee has posted four 20-win seasons, two SEC East titles, an SEC regular-season title (2008), plus national rankings of 25th (2007) and fifth (2008). The current Vols are ranked 15th heading into the SEC Tournament. They are a lock to get their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, their fourth during Chism's career.
A native of Jackson and graduate of Bolivar Central High, Chism is prominent in the UT record book. He stands second in career blocks (147), sixth in career rebounds (869), eighth in starts (112) and 15th in points (1,512). He also has made 123 shots from 3-point range ... not bad for a 6-9, 245-pound post player.
He leads the 2010 Vols in blocks (1.5 per game) and rebounds (6.7 per game), ranks second in scoring (12.4 points per game), steals (1.2 per game) and minutes played (25.6). He averaged 13.4 points and 7.9 rebounds in league play and basically put the team on his back after Tyler Smith was dismissed from the team on Jan. 8. Clearly, the first-team All-SEC recognition was well deserved.
"This is a great honor for Wayne, especially this year when there were so many great, great players in the league," Vol head coach Bruce Pearl said. "Wayne has been an example of a guy who's gotten better every year, and I know his teammates and coaches are very proud of him."
Chism previously earned SEC All-Freshman honors in 2007 and second-team All-SEC recognition in 2009.
Chism is the third player in Pearl's tenure to earn first-team All-SEC honors. Chris Lofton did so in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Tyler Smith turned the trick in 2008 and 2009.
The league office also announced these post-season awards:
Coach of the Year: Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
Player of the Year: John Wall, Kentucky
Freshman of the Year: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Defensive Player of the Year: Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State
Sixth Man of the Year: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt