Instant help

You'll always get first-rate coverage of Vol hoops here at InsideTennessee. Sign in or subscribe now for an in-depth look at a Big Orange rookie.

All indications suggest one newcomer to Tennessee's basketball program will contribute from Day 1. That would be D'montre Edwards, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound junior.

First, he's a transfer from Brevard (Fla.) Community College. Teams rarely bring in junior-college players unless they project to play key roles immediately.

Second, he's familiar with Tennessee's motion offense. It is very similar to the one he played at Brevard.

Third, he's exceptional on the boards for his size, having led his juco team in rebounds as a freshman (6.9 per game) and as a sophomore (7.5).

Fourth, he's no stranger to quality competition. He played for a program with four Div. I signees and played against many more Div. I signees.

Fifth, he's capable of providing offensive punch. He led Brevard in scoring as a freshman (15.3 points per game) and shot 45 percent from the field en route to averaging 14.1 points as a sophomore last winter.

Sixth, he's accurate enough from 3-point range to help relieve the pressure on Vol posts Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon. Edwards hit 37 percent of his treys in 2010-11 and 36 percent in 2011-12.

Seventh, at 20 years of age and with two juco seasons behind him, he already ranks as one of Tennessee's most mature players.

Eighth, he's getting a lot of individual instruction from head coach Cuonzo Martin. Clearly, Martin wants Edwards' development on the fast track.

Finally, he's versatile enough to contribute at multiple positions.

Although he says small forward is his favorite position, Edwards added: "I would be able to guard the 1 (point), 2 (shooting guard) and 3 (small forward). I'm learning from Coach Martin and getting the new defensive scheme."

Asked if he could play power forward, too, Edwards grinned and replied: "Whatever he asks. If he asks me to ... yes."

The adjustment from high school to college competition is a major stumbling block for many first-year collegians. Edwards believes his juco background will help him tremendously in this regard.

"We were playing against a lot of Div. 1 guys," he said. "Playing against those guys last year in juco kind of got me ready for it."

Still, Edwards is finding major-college players tougher to defend than junior-college players.

"I actually had to play against (6-foot-9 center) Kenny Hall on a switch on a screen the other day," Edwards recalled. "I thought I had him but he's bigger than what he looks. He's a really good player. He didn't muscle me; he just did a move and got to the rim really quickly."

Edwards fits the mold of most Cuonzo Martin signees — long enough and strong enough to play every position except point guard and center. The fact he already played in a similar offensive scheme should make for a quick adjustment.

"In junior college my coach basically ran a motion offense, as well, so the positions are interchangeable," Edwards said. "The 2, 3 and 4 are spread, so it's a lot of ball screens and things like that ... just moving around."

Because opponents will clog the lane in an effort to stop Stokes and Maymon, Tennessee desperately needs some 3-point scoring to loosen defenses this season. Edwards believes he can provide it.

"Yes, sir," he said. "Just working on my craft will give me the confidence I need — just getting in the gym and getting up shots."

Martin places a strong emphasis on defense. Edwards thinks he'll be fine in that area, as well.

"I'm just a guy that will bring energy, toughness," he said. "I'll defend the ball, do whatever the coach asks me to do."

Edwards admits being taken aback at first by the extreme levels of focus and physicality Martin demands in practice.

"Just the intensity of it was a surprise," he said. "You've got to come ready to bring it every day. Keeping up my intensity the whole time and the physicality of it have been the biggest adjustments."

Edwards picked Tennessee over Texas A&M, DePaul, College of Charleston and UAB. Becoming a better basketball player was only a part of the equation.

"It's all about being a better man, as well," he said. "Being a better player is the luxury of it. Coach Martin and his staff do a good job of preparing us."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories