Tennessee sophomore Renaldo Woolridge is trying to find his groove on the men's basketball team.
A combination of his injuries, a position change and the surprising play of freshmen Kenny Hall and Skylar McBee have prevented Woolridge from making the Vols' 10-man rotation at this time.
"Renaldo practiced very well early on, and the first couple of weeks he was in the 10-man rotation,'' UT coach Bruce Pearl said Monday. "But right now Renaldo is injured, and Kenny Hall has really come on.
"It could be temporary; it is what it is. We have a scrimmage (today); he could step up.''
Pearl said UT students are invited to attend the scrimmage at Thompson-Boling Arena from 4 to 6 p.m. today, and he plans to meet with the students afterward.
The 10th-ranked Vols also are offering fans $10 seats in the 300 level for Friday's 9 p.m. home opener against Austin Peay, an in-state opponent which reached the NCAA tournament last season.
UT will offer $10 seats in the 300 level for all non-conference home games, with the exception of Kansas, which is sold out.
Woolridge hopes to be back in the mix by the time UT tips off against the Governors.
So far, Woolridge's college career has been a mixed bag; he's best known at this point for making creative videos and rap songs under the name 'Swiperboy'.
Basketball, however, is Woolridge's first love, so he has put his artistic talents on hold while dedicating himself to his sport of choice.
"I'm just trying to find my niche,'' said Woolridge, who at 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds is the Vols' No. 3 option at power forward and on the wing. "I'll just have to keep working hard and stay ready.''
Woolridge spent most of his youth playing point guard, honing his impressive 3-point range in addition to developing guard-friendly ball skills.
But as Woolridge has grown, his role has shifted closer to the basket, and he's still learning the intricacies of posting up and playing more physical in the paint.
Woolridge's nagging injuries have made the transition more difficult.
A strained knee slowed him from the start of the Pilot Rocky Top League last summer, and then a loose-ball scramble with former UT All-American Chris Lofton left him with stitches in his chin that sidelined him for two summer league games.
Woolridge got off to a strong start in UT's fall camp, but he caught a nasty elbow to his right wrist two weeks ago, straining ligaments.
"Hurting that wrist was a tough break for me,'' Woolridge said. "I feel like once it's better, if I deserve to play, Coach will play me.''
Pearl said McBee has solidified himself as Scotty Hopson's backup at shooting guard, and that has led to Cameron Tatum getting more repetitions on the wing with incumbent J.P. Prince.
Woolridge's athleticism and increased strength (he has gained 15 pounds since arriving at UT a little more than a year ago) led Pearl to give him more work at power forward. But with Hall emerging as a force at the post, and Brian Williams showing improvement, starting center Wayne Chism could see more work at power forward.
"Renaldo is third behind Cam (Tatum) and J.P. (Prince) at the three, and he's third behind Wayne and Tyler (Smith) at the four. He has a very bright future.''
Home Crowd: The Vols have averaged 20,689 for Pearl's four previous home openers against East Tennessee State (2005, 21,280), Middle Tennessee State (2006, 17,798), Temple (2007, 21,817) and Chattanooga (2008, 21,864).
"This is a big game for us,'' Pearl said. "This team was in the NCAA tournament, and we always count on our fan support.''
Pearl said the only in-state Division I basketball team the Vols have not played in his tenure with UT is Tennessee State, and UT has tried to schedule the Nashville-based school.