"I think this year has gone well for me," he said in an interview with IT Monday evening. "With my ankle injuries I sat out a total of four games. I'm coming back from the ankle injury and playing pretty well. I'm trying to get it back strong so I have some confidence in my ankle. I've been playing pretty well."
During the grind of a challenging state title defending campaign, Wayne Chism, 6-9, 242, has managed to add about an inch of height and 10 pounds of muscle to his upper body while increasing his strength. He has also received inspiration from watching the Vols play and never misses a game.
"It's been a great honor keeping up with Tennessee," he said. "I watch every game. They've been coming out and playing good, and Coach Pearl is showing how good a coach he is this season."
Pearl's surprising fast start at Tennessee has validated Chism's decision to sign on with a program that was coming off a losing season and hadn't been to an NCAA tournament in four years.
"A lot of people didn't think it was going to come that quick," he said of UT's rise to prominence. "He (Pearl) came out this year coached them hard and everybody on the team has played hard."
The physical problems have been frustrating for Chism and preventing him from achieving the individual statistical goals had had set for himself, but he has still had some standout performances.
"The best game this year was against Liberty Tech of Jackson," he said. "I had 24 points and 20 rebounds the first game against them and in the second game I had 22 points and 14 rebounds. Last year I scored 26 points and had 15 rebounds when we played them."
Tonight, in Lexington, Bolivar faces off with Sycamore High School from Nashville in the Regional semifinals. He won't be 100 percent, but he will give 100 percent in an effort to get back to Murfreesboro and finish his high school career on a high note.
"Yes sir. I injured my ankle against Brentwood Academy," he said, "but it's all right. I'm taping it and using an ankle brace. My ankle is close to 100 percent now, but I still have to have it wrapped and taped up."
Chism wants to get an early start on his college career and is planning to enroll at Tennessee on June 1. He is eager to get acclimated to life on campus and becoming a vital cog in Pearl's second Vol basketball squad.
"If I come in and play like I'm supposed to play, rebound and help get the transition game going," he said, "I believe we can be a great team."
Tennessee fans have great expectations of the hard working Chism, and they shouldn't be disappointed. After all, where there's a will there's a Wayne.