If you see Admiral Schofield leaving the locker room on any given day you would think he just took his pads off. All 6-5, 256 pounds of him are physically imposing enough to make even the most talented offensive tackle question himself if he were to step onto a football field. But Schofield passed up the gridiron for a chance to play his first true love, basketball, and Tennessee coach Rick Barnes is mighty glad he did.
The Scout three-star small forward who isn’t very small brings a daunting presence to the frontcourt despite the fact that he wants to lose around 30 pounds and pick up some speed before the season begins.
“I feel like I’m pretty strong,” Schofield said. “I can bang with the biggest guys, but right now, I’m just trying to be in better condition. I think that’s my weakness now is right now (I can) be in better condition. I’m just trying to work on running, being explosive.”
Schofield’s debut in the Pilot Rocky Top League this week was a welcomed chance to show Vols fans just why everyone — from Barnes to former NBA champion turned AAU coach Dickey Simpkins — has raved about his versatile skillset. It’s also given the new crop of Tennessee signees a chance to build some chemistry together while getting a look at the returning players, something Schofield said he has embraced wholeheartedly.
“Basketball has really ventured me out and helped me meet new people, different people. It’s a global game,” Schofield said. “Anyone who plays basketball you can relate with, so I just love getting out and meeting new guys and playing with new guys. Rocky Top League is perfect for, not just the community, but for our basketball team to reach out to the community and be more personal with the guys.”
Football has always been a big part of his life, too, though, as he’s been able to glean serious advice from an NFL player who’s just a short drive from Knoxville. Schofield’s brother, O’Brien, is a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons and offers advice to his younger sibling.
“We talk every day. He’s right down the road. He’s been giving me a lot of advice on how to be a great man here at Tennessee and be a great athlete, student-athlete, and how to present myself on and off the court,” the younger Schofield said.
“He’s my brother. He gets on me. He’s very competitive. Me and him kind of have a bet right now on who can get the most rings. He’s up right now.”
The older brother is winning that contest right now since he won the biggest ring of them all as a Seattle Seahawk in 2013. But the newest Vol, who grew up watching Michael Jordan in Space Jam, isn’t letting that affect the bet, especially after seeing what his fellow teammates are capable of in the Rocky Top League.
“We’ve got a bright future in front of us. I think that the work ethic that we have right now is putting us in a different type of mindset,” Schofield said. “I think this summer is good for us as far as camaraderie and things like that. We’re bonding well, so I think that coach Barnes has changed the whole atmosphere of Tennessee basketball.”
The new Admiral of the Vols’ hoops team will be living up to his budding hype and his name, which he got from his father, who is a retired Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, in a rather unconventional way.
“I was born in London, England. Over there they have something called Admiral Insurance instead of General Insurance, what we have here,’ Schofield said. “He heard that name and was like ‘Admiral, that’s what I’m going to name my son.’”
The pace at the next level has been an adjustment, and Schofield said he wants to work on becoming a more consistent shooter who can handle the ball better. He’s seen others on the team who can help him do just that, and he has plenty to bring to a group of guys who are meshing their talent to win more than just the support of Tennessee basketball fans.
“Everybody brings their own type of flavor to our team. We’ve got guys that bring grit, guys that are just grimy on the floor and work hard to rebound, play defense,” Schofield said.
“We've got guys who can score. We’ve got guys who can shoot. Right now, it’s just going to be amazing to see how coach Barnes mixes it up to put the right guys out on the floor. I think we’re going to have a great year this year.”