D'Montre Edwards discusses the pressing issues of the Vols' Italian tour
FLORENCE, Italy — The dial is moving faster on D'Montre Edwards' clock.
Armani Moore and Derek Reese, a pair of Tennessee freshmen basketball players, along with redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous, have four long years of collegiate eligibility remaining. The tics and the tocks of their clocks toll unhurried.
But Edwards, a junior college transfer from Brevard (Fla.) Community College, knows his time is fleeting.
"I've got two years left, two years to do this," Edwards said Thursday. "I've just got to do what I have to do and play hard, go all out."
So with his mind on his time and plenty to prove, Edwards has traveled here to Italy to prove himself.
His name appears on a roster of mostly known commodities — the veteran point guard in Trae Golden, the crafty and athletic wings in Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson, the sharpshooter in Skylar McBee, and the big men banging down low in Jeronne Maymon, Jarnell Stokes and Kenny Hall.
What does Edwards bring to the table?
"I'll do whatever Coach (Cuonzo) Martin wants," he said.
Having spent the summer trying to nudge his way into Martin's rotation, Edwards has the most to prove in the Vols' overseas spree. His size — a solid 6-foot-6, 210 pounds — and skill set — a rangy shooter, aggressive defender and physical rebounder — make him versatile and functional.
In UT's comfortable 83-32 victory against All Star Italy on Wednesday night in Rome, Martin sent Edwards into the game for rebounding. He pulled down a team-high eight to go with five points.
"When I heard my name called, I was thinking, 'OK, I'm ready, I'm not nervous, I've been doing this my whole life, it's my time,' " Edwards remembered Thursday.
His first shot, a 3-pointer from the wing, sailed wide, gathering air instead of net. Call it nerves. Edwards coolly lifted up and splashed in a 3 from the top of the key later in the night.
But Martin didn't bring Edwards to Knoxville for 3-point shooting. The 20-year-old fits the mold of the wings Martin tabs as a commodity. In the brand of defense he preaches and motion offense he's installed, Martin wants big, long-armed, disruptive, multipurpose players. They're the type of players you have difficulty labeling with a single position.
"He has a feel and physical presence to him," Martin said of Edwards. "He can play inside, play on the perimeter, put the ball on the floor, rebound well and post guys up. He's a good basketball player. He's ready to play at this level."
And he better be. A two-year career offers little leeway.
Edwards took a risk when he committed to Tennessee in October of 2011. Scholarships from Texas A&M, DePaul, College of Charleston and UAB were discarded. None of those programs match the amount of talent UT has returning.
That didn't deter Edwards.
Now the clock is ticking.
"Everywhere you go and everywhere you play, you're always going to fight for minutes," Edwards said. "It's really about who plays harder and who gets the job done."