Elgrace Wilborn ... good riddance

The first time I saw <!--Default NodeId For Elgrace Wilborn is 445082,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:445082]>Elgrace Wilborn</A> on the practice floor, I thought he could be a big help to the University of <!--Default For Tennessee is to ignore-->Tennessee basketball program.

Though severely limited offensively, his abilities as a shot-blocker and rebounder suggested he could become a superior role player off the bench.

Two years later, it's obvious the positives he brought as a player could not offset the negatives he brought as a personality. Wilborn was a disruptive force almost from Day 1. Shortly after Buzz Peterson was hired to replace Jerry Green (who had signed Wilborn the previous November), Elgrace began planning a transfer to Michigan State.

Wilborn, who had not yet played a game for UT, asked Peterson for a release, so he could attend MSU without having to sit out two seasons. Peterson declined. That may have been a bad move. As seriously as Buzz needed post prospects, he didn't need the headaches Wilborn would bring.

Some players can take coaching and some can't. Apparently, Wilborn can't. Peterson said last winter that he had more disputes with Elgrace than any player he ever coached. These had to be a distraction for a youthful Vol team that was struggling to find an identity after losing Marcus Haislip and Vincent Yarbrough to the NBA draft.

The final straw came when Wilborn was charged with aggravated assault after allegedly breaking the jaw of teammate/roommate Brandon Crump during a verbal confrontation at their off-campus apartment. Wilborn says Crump got loud and chest-bumped him. However, subsequent reports suggest Wilborn was the instigator, and that Crump was in the process of moving to another apartment even before the ugly incident occurred.

Wilborn might have gotten the benefit of the doubt if he'd been repentent. Instead, he supposedly spent the past week boasting of his fistic exploits to other Vol athletes. Whether that happened or not, Peterson uncovered enough evidence this week to conclude that Wilborn has overstayed his welcome at UT.

So, two years after Elgrace asked Buzz for his release, he has gotten it. Released from his scholarship and dismissed from the program, Wilborn finally can enroll at Michigan State ... or wherever else he chooses.

A closing thought ...

When Dennis Felton took the Georgia head coaching job a couple of months ago, he released all of predecessor Jim Harrick's November signees to go elsewhere. That was a classy gesture and a good idea. If a guy doesn't want to play for you, let him go play for someone else. In retrospect, Buzz Peterson should've released Wilborn to sign with Michigan State two years ago.

Tennessee basketball would've been better off without him.

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