The Lady Vols have added an All-American juco post – and the program’s first international player – in Cheridene Green, who committed Saturday to Tennessee.
Green, who visited Tennessee last week, selected the Lady Vols over Rutgers, Ole Miss, Syracuse and Pittsburgh and called coaches Holly Warlick and Sharrona Reaves on Saturday afternoon. Reaves, who joined the Lady Vols staff last month, already knew Green and had watched her play in games and at practices when recruiting posts for West Virginia.
“I was speaking with Coach Reaves, and she really had a talk with me about what Tennessee had to offer and what I could do to help them,” said Green, a 6-3 center from London, England, who played at ASA College in Brooklyn, New York, the past two seasons. “I took my visit and asked questions. I felt like they are very honest and cool people. I felt like we understood each other.
“It wasn’t just me going on a visit to try out the school. It was also them trying to see what I am about. It was a very good experience, a very good visit, and I was very confident. People talk about you just get that feeling, and I got that feeling. I never understood what people were talking about until this visit.”
Her debut for the Lady Vols will be delayed a year. Green tore her ACL and MCL in practice in the latter part of the 2015-16 season, so she will enroll at Tennessee this summer, have surgery and start rehab. She averaged 20.5 points and 16.5 rebounds in 15 games prior to the injury. Her focus has been on pre-surgery rehab and quad strengthening “so that after surgery the rehab will be so much easier,” Green said.
It speaks to her overall talent and upside – she played on England’s national team and in FIBA competitions – that several schools pursued her despite the injury. Tennessee didn’t hesitate in offering a scholarship to Green.
“I think it shows how much they cared about me and how much they’re willing to work with me,” Green said. “I know I will do my part, and I trust them that they will do theirs. I feel like it’s a great opportunity. They knew I had this injury and I want to come back stronger and much better. I think they have the confidence in me to do that.”
The Lady Vols have graduate transfer Schaquilla Nunn, a 6-3 post, on the roster for the 2016-17 season and then Green will have two years of eligibility left in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Green is a legitimate 6-3 with a post build, ability to finish and an assortment of post moves. She will use the rehab time for strength and conditioning and to work on her midrange game. Green wants to play basketball on the professional level, and Tennessee seemed like the best route.
“I want to come back better, so I am going to take advantage of this,” Green said.
Green is completing her schoolwork at ASA College – and is an outstanding student – and hopes to enroll as early as June, but July may be more feasible. Classes end at ASA College on May 31, and Green is trying to finish early and take exams.
“So far, it’s looking really good,” she said. “If I can, that would be great.”
Her basketball path has taken Green from London to Brooklyn and soon to be Knoxville and from Lady Avengers at ASA College to Lady Vols.
“I play for England and I also play for Great Britain, the Euro team,” she said. “Coach Thomas Davis (ASA), he’s a very good coach, and he got in contact with people I knew (in England), and I came to ASA. It was a very good experience. He developed me as a player and a person.”
Reaves sold Green on how she could improve her game on the Division I level at Tennessee.
“I think it helped a lot, the fact that I knew her prior,” Green said. “She was a very good person to speak to, and I think it made it easier (to decide).”
Green also met assistant coach Dean Lockwood on her visit and came away impressed.
“I think he is passionate about what he does, which attracted me even more to it, because I am very passionate about basketball,” Green said. “We were having a conversation about basketball, a dead serious conversation just about basketball.
“I really enjoyed it. He was talking to me about decision-making, game situations and I think he was very impressed with my answers. I was very impressed with him as a coach and as a person. He was very enthusiastic, which drew me to him as a post coach. I want to step up my game. I want to not just be a five, but a stretch four. I think he could help and push me to my potential.”
Green is a polished center who is very comfortable with her back to the basket, but “I am not one-dimensional,” she said.
“It also depends on the matchup. I will step out, do a reverse pivot, fake, drive to the basket. I will shoot midrange shots. I am a vocal leader, too. Being here (at ASA), I have become more confident in being a leader. If I know something and I listen to the coaches, I can help out my teammates. I don’t keep it to myself. I want everyone to be better. I want everyone to be great. You can’t win by yourself.”
Green, who has a delightful English accent, will have to adjust to Southern dialect and the color orange.
“I do like orange. I think it is an interesting color, very bright and very happy, which is good,” Green said. “I am a happy person.”
Green is somewhat fascinated by Southern accents and has tried one out at times, even pronouncing ball to rhyme with tall as she dragged out the word.
“I like it,” she said. “It’s interesting.”
Green also will be the first international player in the history of the Lady Vols’ program.
“I think that is amazing,” she said.
Green, who plans to study zoology, is another piece in the Lady Vols’ recruiting strategy to add posts – and players who can set the tone about work ethic. Green intends to inhabit Pratt Pavilion.
“Definitely,” Green said. “You can’t just rely on practice. Practice is very team-related. If you want to improve yourself and improve your game, you have to make sure you do extra things if you want to be great. If you want to help out the team, you have to do things on your own time, even down to watching what you eat.
“I think we can achieve great things. I am very confident.”null