Asumnu could 'pick up' Vols

He isn't as flashy as fellow freshmen C.J. Watson and John Winchester, nor as tall as classmate Boomer Herndon. But UT basketball signee Stanley Asumnu may be more college-ready than any of Tennessee's rookies.

That's because Asumnu has patience and an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. Based on recent pickup action, he is content to blend into the background and wait for the game to come to him. Then, when it does, he'll convert loose balls into ''garbage baskets'' and convert open looks into 3-pointers. In short, the 6-foot-5 swing man from Houston does a little bit of everything.

''I'm a slasher,'' he said. ''I can shoot the ball, take it to the basket, I can hit the open shot or create my own shot. I like to get up and down the court, have fun, and I like to throw it down (dunk) and get the crowd going.''

Asked about his propensity for garbage baskets, Asumnu grinned broadly.

''If you stick with it, keep your eye on the ball, box out and go strong to the basket, I feel you can score,'' he said. ''If a shot goes up, I want to get it and put it back in. If I get it, I believe I can go ahead and score.''

Because he can play small forward or shooting guard, Asumnu focused on Vincent Yarbrough and Jon Higgins while watching the Vols last winter. He figures both are great role models.

''Yarbrough was a great player here and, now that he's gone, I really believe I have a chance to come in here and play,'' Asumnu said. ''If I work hard and give God all the glory, I really think I can get it done.''

Now that Yarbrough has moved on the the NBA, Asumnu is looking mainly to Higgins for guidance.

''I've learned a lot from Jon Higgins,'' he said. ''He is a great shooting guard. I want to learn from him and become a great basketball player here, help the university any way I can.''

When asked what areas he needs to improve, Asumnu shrugged.

''I just want to work hard,'' he said. ''I'm not there yet. I'm not going to say I have to work on this or that. I really believe I have a lot of talent and I can do well if I just continue to work hard every day.''

Asumnu, Watson and Winchester are the key to Tennessee's future but there is considerable pressure on them to produce in the present. How they handle that pressure will strongly influence the success or failure of the coming season.

''I think we're ready,'' Asumnu said. ''We're like a family. We want to work hard, get each other better. I really believe we can get it done. I really believe we can bring some championships here to Tennessee.

''I'm excited to get out here and play with these guys. We're just learning right now but I really think we're going to have a strong team this year.''

Inside Tennessee Top Stories