D-Day for Chism

One Tennessee Vol may have played his last basketball game as an amateur Wednesday night in the Rocky Top Summer League at Knoxville's Bearden High Gym.

Wayne Chism, a Jackson native who was Tennessee's first-team center the past three years, is hoping to be selected in tonight's NBA Draft. That makes this a thrilling, yet nerve-wracking time for the charismatic ex-Vol.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I can't wait to see it (the telecast)."

Several of Chism's relatives drove across the state from Jackson to be with him at this tense time. They're providing a calming influence.

"I had some butterflies the past couple of weeks," he said, "but I've got my family here now and I'm all relaxed."

Asked which teams have shown the most interest in him, Chism shrugged.

"I have no idea," he said. "My agent's got the best answer to that."

Chism averaged 12.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a Vol senior in 2009-10, hitting 46.6 percent from the field, 32.4 percent from 3 and 75.8 from the foul line. He leaves as UT's all-time leader in games played (142), wins (104), NCAA Tournament games (11), NCAA Tournament wins (7) and NCAA Tournament rebounds (57). He also holds the record for career 3-pointers by a post player (131).

Chism suffered a 15-stitch gash over his right eye when he took a stray elbow to the face while competing at a combine-type workout for NBA Draft prospects on June 10. He did not get to finish the session but is convinced that did not hurt his draft stock.

"That never cost me any time," he said. "I still went and worked out with the teams (that wanted to evaluate him)."

Most mock drafts do not have Chism being picked in the two-round affair but he's hoping for the best.

"It's very important to be drafted," he said. "But if I don't I can't hold my head down. It means I can still get better and try to get in another way.... Whatever happens (in the draft) I'm going to be very happy."

Listed at 6-8 and 245 pounds by NBA Draft analysts, Chism may be too small to play center in the pros. He probably lacks the consistent outside shot to play small forward, so power forward appears to be his best bet. Whatever position he plays, he believes his game will translate well at the NBA level.

"I believe it will translate," he said. "I just have to go to whatever team I play on and do whatever role they want me to do. Whatever position they put me I've got to work hard. I'm up for any challenge."

Asked what he learned from the NBA camps he attended, other than to watch out for flying elbows, Chism paused thoughtfully.

"Just being physical," he said. "You're going up against guys that are big every night, and you've got to be ready to play every night."

At the conclusion of his team's Wednesday night game in the Rocky Top League, Chism turned and threw his trademark headband into the crowd. Asked if that was a way of thanking the UT fans who supported him the past four years, he grinned.

"They brought a big old sign that said, 'Could we please have your head band?'" he said. "I couldn't resist. I had to give it to 'em."

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