Green but growing

Although he played just four minutes Saturday vs. Temple, he has a future at Tennessee that could be as impressive as his upside.

Emmanuel Negedu got a late start playing basketball in his native Nigeria but the muscular 6-7, 230-pounder has a world of untapped potential. Just ask Vol head coach Bruce Pearl.

"I think he's doing fine," Pearl said recently. "I think he just needs to continue to stay ready. How many 10th men in the country can you say were partially responsible for one of the best wins you've had all year? That's Georgetown."

Because foul problems limited Wayne Chism to 12 minutes and Brian Williams to nine against the Hoyas, Negedu wound up playing 20 minutes. He rose to the occasion, too, producing 5 points, 6 rebounds, a block and a steal, even though he was going against 6-11 Greg Monroe, one of the most heralded freshmen in college hoops.

"I was a little surprised," Pearl conceded of Negedu's performance that afternoon. "He played with great energy. He played fearlessly. I don't think there's any question that his AAU experience and his high school experience helped. And sometimes his lack of knowledge (helps). He may have known who Greg Monroe was, but he didn't care. That's a great thing."

Because Negedu began playing basketball so late in life, his development is still in its infancy. Thus, he should make more progress than most freshmen during his initial college season.

"Emmanuel's skill package is farther ahead than what I thought it would be," Pearl said. "He can shoot it, he can drive it. Obviously, (he's gifted) athletically."

Physically, Negedu is ahead of the game. Mentally, though, he's behind the curve.

"His knowledge of the game, his feel offensively and defensively are just behind – as you expect them to be," Pearl said. "Through practice and games the learning curve is up. He's a terrific student also. He has the ability to learn in the classroom, and I've got to continue to work with him so that he's a better learner on the court."

Tennessee charts each player in each game according to how many points UT scores vs. how many the opponent scores while he is on the floor. Negedu's number vs. Georgetown was amazing.

"Emmanuel was plus-27 in the Georgetown game," Pearl said. "He happened to be out there with Cameron (Tatum) when he was making shots. But he showed defense, energy, tenacity ... he made his free throws. And he gave the rest of the guys some courage when Wayne (Chism) was in foul trouble."

His present may be hindered by his inexperience but Emmanuel Negedu's future is unlimited.

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