Oregon Trail continues for UT

Jaime Nared said her official visits would tell her which school was the right fit and that turned out to be Tennessee. Go inside to read what the latest Lady Vol commit has to say about picking orange and white.

Jaime Nared expected a rural campus on her visit to Knoxville. What she found instead was a vibrant campus community, busy city and tens of thousands of orange-clad fans.

"It was nothing like I expected," said Nared, a top 10 recruit in the Class of 2014. "Good Lord, the fans are amazing. It was amazing to say the least. It was a beautiful campus."

When native New Yorker Chamique Holdsclaw visited Knoxville in the 1990s, she expected to see cows crossing the road. It wasn't quite that extreme for Nared in 2013, but the images in her mind were pastoral ones.

"I had an idea of the country," she said. "That is what really got me confused. I was like, ‘This is not what I was expecting.' It was a little bit with the cowboy boots. I just loved every minute of the visit."

She made the decision Monday evening after talking to her parents.

"I just said, ‘I want to go to Tennessee,' " Nared said.

Nared was barely back in Portland, Ore., when she determined that the Lady Vols were her choice. Nared made her official visit to Knoxville last weekend and spent time with the team and staff.

"I felt like it was the best fit for me," Nared said. "I loved the visit. I had an idea in my head, but I hadn't really voiced it. I told them and now I am committed."

Nared called Holly Warlick and staff before going to school Tuesday. Since Nared is on the West Coast, it was late morning when the Lady Vols staff took the call.

"I called coach Holly and I said, ‘Coach, I'm not going,' " Nared said. "I just wanted to play with her. She was like, ‘OK … .' I said, ‘I am just kidding!' They were all four on the phone. It was just a good moment. They were screaming."

Assistant coach Kyra Elzy was on the phone at a doctor's appointment and started yelling.

"She said she screamed in the doctor's office," Nared said. "I called right when I woke up. I wanted them to know first."

Nared's other finalists were Ohio State, UCLA, Louisville, Oregon State and Southern Cal. She had a visit scheduled to Louisville later this month, but she canceled it instead of taking a trip at the school's expense when she knew she wanted to sign with Tennessee.

She talked to her parents, who advised Nared not to take a trip if her decision was made.

"That is what my parents and I discussed," Nared said. "They knew at the end of the Tennessee visit that I just had a feeling about it that I didn't have on my other visits. They said, ‘If you want to go, you go.'

"They haven't made any decisions for me. I made all the decisions. They just helped me along the way. Basically, they said, if you really feel this way about the school, then go and don't waste anyone's time. If you want to be there, be there."

Nared will be the third player on the roster from the state of Oregon. Mercedes Russell, a 6-6 post, is from Springfield, and Jordan Reynolds, a 5-11 guard, is from Portland. Nared played AAU ball with Russell and has known Reynolds since both were in elementary school. Both are freshmen this season.

Nared's teasing of the staff is apparently similar to Reynolds' trickery. Over the summer, she swiped Warlick's phone to post a Twitter status that stated the head coach loved the freshmen.

"Jordan is a clown," Nared said. "She is hilarious."

That familiarity helped on the visit, but it was Tennessee overall that attracted Nared.

"Everything, the coaches, the way they develop their players, the players, too, the campus," Nared said.

Nared is a versatile and athletic wing who has extended range and can score in multiple ways. The Lady Vols have been seeking a small forward, and Nared fills a position of need.

That can sometimes influence a player's decision – projections favorable to playing time early – but Nared is too grounded for such to be a factor.

"Honestly, it wasn't," Nared said. "I just feel like they'll develop me as a player to where I will be where I want to be. I don't think I am where I want to be. I still think I have a lot of work to do, especially when I get there.

"Once you get to college, the work you do will take care of itself. It is what you make of it. I am ready for the challenge."

Nared intends to sign her LOI this November during the early signing period. She is likely to enroll next July for summer session to get a head start on classes and conditioning. As was the case for Russell and Reynolds, Oregon high school graduations are too late for her to enroll in the first summer term in June.

Nared isn't worried about the distance between Oregon and Tennessee. While she will miss her hometown, she is eager to get to Knoxville.

"I think I am very independent," Nared said. "My parents would tell you first. Obviously, I will miss home, but I know I will see them."

Nared's parents, Reiko Mia Williams and Greg Nared, have blessed their daughter's decision.

"They are ecstatic," Nared said. "They knew by the time we got there and got around the team that that's where I was going to be basically. They didn't want to say obviously. But they knew. They have been great along the way."

Nared and her parents now are searching for wardrobe additions in the color orange.

"My dad bought this hat and that is all," Nared said. "My dad said we can find some stuff online, so I need to do that as soon as possible."

Nared can also now focus on her senior season and improving her overall game.

"Everything," Nared said when asked what facets of her game needed to improve, "but to be more specific, my ball handling, my passing, being consistent. I will never be satisfied until I am perfect, which will never happen, but that is what I am working on."

She is also relieved to have the recruiting process completed.

"It was cool for about a day," she said. "But every day after that I wanted to get this over with, but I also wanted to make a good decision for the next four years of my life.

"I wanted to get to know everybody and where I best fit for the next four years of my life, the best place where I will grow, what is the best sports broadcasting place for me that is going to develop my ability. Everything factored into it.

"I am blessed to say I have been recruited. It is a blessing all together, but I just can't wait to be on Rocky Top."


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