Tennessee incoming freshman Kenny Hall takes the floor each time with a chip on his shoulder.
"I know my opponents look at me and think they'll push me around,'' said Hall, who at 6-foot-8 weighs only 215 pounds. "But you're gonna have to really overpower me if you want to do that.''
Hall, who enrolled in UT in June for the first term of summer school, averaged 15.7 points per game playing in the Pilot Rocky Top League, hitting shots at a .535 clip.
"I feel like I'm improving every game out,'' Hall said. "I feel like I've learned a little bit of what it takes to play at the next level.''
Hall signed with the Vols out of Stone Mountain, Ga., last November after earning All-State honors and being ranked No. 55 overall in the nation by ESPN.
He admits it has been a challenging transition. He's the only freshman signee and has to learn the college life on his own.
"I'm not used to working out first thing in the morning, going to class, then working out again, then back to class, then papers and homework,'' Hall said. "Really, I'm still adjusting to all of that.''
Hall said he's viewed as the "little brother'' to most all of the players in the program. UT returns every player from last year's SEC East championship team except Ryan Childress.
"They've taken me in, and I really look up to them and try to emulate the things they are doing on and off the court,'' Hall said. "I'm just now getting to know Tyler (Smith) better, and I'm anxious for him to teach me a lot of stuff.''
Hall appears as though he could contribute immediately. He defends fiercely in the paint, moves his feet relatively well on the perimeter, he's a quick leaper and he can run the floor.
"I take my craft pretty serious,'' said Hall, who projects as a power forward. "This is my life, right here, on the basketball court.
"I have a passion to win, and I'll do whatever it takes for us to win.''
Swiper Boy: UT rising sophomore Renaldo Woolridge - known as "Swiper Boy'' on his hip-hop CDs - had a good summer in the recording studio but a rough go of it in the Rocky Top League.
Woolridge strained his left knee while working out at his father's pre-NBA camp for 10 days in Greenville, S.C., then got knocked out for a game in a collision with former UT star Chris Lofton.
"I just got the stitches out of my chin, but it's kinda cool to have a scar from Chris Lofton,'' Woolridge said with a smile. "I tried to get back in the swing of things, but it has been a tough month.''
Woolridge averaged a modest 11 points per game - lowest of the current Vols who played in the Rocky Top League.