Best of the decade: posts

Trying to pinpoint the best Tennessee basketball players of the past decade (2000-2009) seemed like an interesting way to spice up a reasonably quiet off-season ... so I gave it my best shot.

Today's topic: Post players.

Interestingly enough, three of the six guys who warranted inclusion left the program before they exhausted their eligibility.

1. WAYNE CHISM: Strong enough to defend the post and quick enough to defend on the perimeter, "Wheezy" is a rare athlete indeed. A part-time starter in 2007, the 6-9, 245-pounder was The Man in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He averaged 9.1 points per game as a freshman, 9.9 as a sophomore, 13.7 as a junior and 12.6 as a senior. His career numbers show 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 23.8 minutes per game. He shot 46.2 percent from the floor, which included 32.3 percent on 405 attempts from 3. He also blocked 152 shots in 142 games (119 starts). A hard worker, he improved his foul shooting from 55.6 percent as a sophomore to 75.8 as a senior.

2. BRANDON CRUMP: He didn't look all that great doing it but Crump put up some strong numbers as essentially a four-year starter (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005). The 6-10, 250-pound Texan started 100 of 115 career games and averaged nearly one block per game (107). He scored 7.1 points per game as a freshman, 11.0 as a sophomore, 14.8 as a junior and 11.3 as a senior. Crump made 56.7 percent of his field-goal tries at UT, with career averages of 11.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 26.4 minutes per game.

3. MAJOR WINGATE: A backup in 2004 and '05, he started in '06, then was dismissed from the program before his senior season of '07. Wingate tended to get up for games against the better centers he faced, then disappear against lesser foes. The 6-10, 250-pounder averaged 3.6 points per game as a freshman, 5.0 as a sophomore and 10.6 as a junior. His career averages show 6.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 19.4 minutes per game. He shot a solid 50.9 percent from the field and blocked 70 shots in 89 career games (52 starts).

4. DUKE CREWS: After starting 18 games as a freshman in 2007, he was reduced to a backup role - partly due to a heart condition - as a sophomore in '08, then left the program by "mutual agreement" with Coach Bruce Pearl. Though undersized at 6-7 and 233 pounds, he was a fierce competitor who averaged 8.4 points per game as a freshman and 5.4 as a sophomore. His career stats show 7.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 17.7 minutes per game. Crews' shooting range was maybe 10 feet but he made 51.4 percent of his field-goal tries and registered 42 blocks in 61 games (20 starts).

5A. BRIAN WILLIAMS: Chism's backup in 2008, 2009 and 2010, "Big Baby" has started 15 of 94 games to date, with one season of eligibility remaining. He averaged 2.8 points per game as a freshman, 5.0 as a sophomore and 5.6 as a junior. His career numbers show 4.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 15.4 minutes per game. He is shooting 53.7 percent from the field for his career with 48 blocked shots. The 6-10, 270-pounder finished last season with a flourish, averaging 7.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in the Vols' NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight.

5B. ELGRACE WILBORN: As Brandon Crump's backup in 2002 and 2003, he started just five games in his two-season UT career before being dismissed from the program (for breaking Crump's jaw, ironically). Before departing, Wilborn averaged 3.1 points per game as a freshman and 2.9 as a sophomore. The 6-8, 230-pounder averaged just 3.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 15.0 minutes per game for his career but he was a 55.2 percent shooter and an intimidating presence on defense, blocking 61 shots in 58 career games.

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