UT in Chism's final five

One of the state's premier basketball prospects has narrowed his college options to five … and the Tennessee Vols are one of them.

Wayne Chism, a 6-8, 210-pound power forward from Bolivar, recently told Yancy Porter of Scout.com that his top five schools are "Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi State." He subsequently added: "I really do not see anyone else coming into the picture."

Chism says he has scholarship offers from all five schools and has made unofficial visits to UT and Ole Miss. He likes Tennessee, he said, because of the academics and likes Ole Miss because "It is nice down there and their people are real cool."

In no hurry, Chism says he probably won't make a decision in time for the Early Signing Period in November. This could weigh in Tennessee's favor, since it will give new coach Bruce Pearl a full season to showcase the crowd-pleasing uptempo offense he's installing and to show he can get the Vol program headed in the right direction.

Pearl also is in hot pursuit of Bolivar point guard Willie Kemp. The Vols would love to get Chism and his teammate, but attending the same college isn't a major priority for them.

"If we do it is cool," Chism told Porter. "And if we do not, it is no problem."

Chism described himself as "an inside guy. I like to bang with the big boys." He averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks per game in helping Bolivar to the Class 6A state title as a junior last winter. He hopes to boost those numbers in 2005-06.

"We want to repeat, and I want to average 20 points and 15 rebounds and win Mr. Basketball," he said.

Chism helped guide Memphis Pump and Run to the title at the prestigious ABCD camp this summer. He also participated in the Real Deal on the Hill, the Super 64 and the Best of Summer camps.

Although he already has a big-time reputation, Chism says his game still needs some fine-tuning in one area.

"My outside game -- both my jumpers and free throws," he said. "I need to work on my ball-handling skills, too."

Vol fans hope he'll work on these skills at Tennessee someday.

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