Underrated Vol

Because he lacks imposing size, highlight-reel moves and a double-digit scoring average, Tennessee senior Dane Bradshaw might be the most underrated basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.

Heck, the guy's not even fully appreciated by Dane Bradshaw himself.

"I'm sure some games the team would be better without me on the court," the unassuming senior said recently. "There's been cases this year when I wasn't playing well – like the UNC-Wilmington game.

"That's one of the worst feelings ... when you realize that, while you're in the game, the team is doing worse."

Those occasions are rare, however. Bradshaw tends to make the Vols much better when he's in the game. For instance, last Friday night against Murray State he helped the Vols build a 19-4 lead. When he went to the bench for a quick breather, the Racers made an 11-0 run. When he returned, the Vols responded with a 12-0 spurt.

Although Bradshaw averages just 7.4 points per game, he contributes significantly in other areas. For instance, he leads the Vols in assists (37), steals (20) and blocked shots (9). He ranks fourth in rebounds (4.0 per game), despite standing just 6-feet-4. In addition, he is proving to be the team's most dependable ball-handler.

Clearly, Bradshaw is one valuable Volunteer.

"The key to that is the assist/turnover ratio," head coach Bruce Pearl says. "He's the leader of assist/turnover ratio in the SEC, and he was 5 and 0 again (vs. Murray State)."

Through the first eight games Bradshaw is averaging 4.6 assists and a mere 1.9 turnovers per game. Clearly, he's one of those rare guys who can make lots of plays without making lots of mistakes.

"He doesn't turn the ball over," Vol freshman Duke Crews says. "He makes solid decisions with the ball and finds the open man. He's patient and he plays well in the passing lanes on defense and in our press. He does a whole lot of things well. He's amazing out there."

The thing Bradshaw probably does best, though, is bring out the best in others.

"He makes everybody better on the floor," Pearl notes. "Defensively, he knows how to play. We've got to continue to put the ball in his hands as often as we possibly can."

Bradshaw shrugs off the idea that he is anything special. In typically modest fashion, he notes merely that "I feel very comfortable with the chemistry I have when I'm on the floor with certain players."

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