Vols have no MVP

Last weekend's Tennessee Basketball Awards Banquet did not include a Most Valuable Player Award. Or a Rebound Leader Award. Or a Free Throw Leader Award. Or an Assist Leader Award.

All of these honors were bestowed in years past but none will be given during Bruce Pearl's tenure as the Vols' head coach. He never gave out such awards at Southern Indiana or Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he'll never give them out at Tennessee. Simply put, he and his staff prefer to focus on team achievements rather than individual achievements.

"The significance is ‘Team first,' " associate head coach Tony Jones explained. "We gave out awards for improvement, for academics, for hustle and things of that nature. We believe those are the key components in a successful program."

Dane Bradshaw's hustle and willingness to play hurt earned him the "Team Before Self" Award. His dedication in the weight room also earned him the "Lifter of the Year" Award. The progress made by JaJuan Smith and Major Wingate enabled them to share the "Most Improved" Award. Jordan Howell's determination to work his way into a significant role got him the "Most Courageous" Award. Ben Bosse's excellence in the class room won him the "Thornton Center Academic Achievement" Award.

Those were the only awards given, however, as Pearl and his staff declined to honor players for individual on-court excellence.

"We don't give out anything for MVP, for scoring the most points or anything like that," Jones said. "That's just our concept and our philosophy. We want to emphasize the team, not the individual."

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