Cam Tatum and Wayne Chism at the Pilot Rocky Top League
A long pause preceded the confession.
Leaning against the hallway wall at Bearden High School, Quinton Chievous was asked when the frustration set in last year. The 6-foot-5 guard never anticipated being asked to redshirt his freshman basketball season at Tennessee when he spurned Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus as a high school senior in Chicago.
"Going to practice and producing every day kind of made me upset," Chievous said Wednesday night, prior to taking the floor in Pilot Rocky Top League play. "I thought I could play."
The 2011-12 Vols season lasted an eternity for Chievous. All watch and no play.
All along, eyes were set on the 2012-13 season. Now it's around the corner and Chievous said the redshirt freshman year was time well spent.
"On the basketball part, I didn't know all the plays and I didn't know where to be on defense," he said. "Once I understood that, I realized the redshirt was good."
Starring on a Choice Spine team featuring UT teammate Jordan McRae and former UNC Asheville star J.P. Primm on Wednesday, Chievous made nine of 18 field goals and scored 23 points in a 115-96 win over DeRoyal Industries.
The performance followed a 30-point outburst on Monday night.
Scoring aside, Chievous is just happy to be on the floor. He'll officially play as a Vol for the first time in August when UT travels to Italy for a four-game tour.
"Last year I didn't even play in the first exhibition game, so I've never really been on the court with the team," said Chievous, who averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior at Notre Dame College Prep. "Going overseas, I'll probably be a little nervous getting in the game at first, but I feel like as soon as I make my first shot or get my first steal, I'll be at ease."
"The three position is pretty wide open," he said. "Coach says he can see me playing anywhere from the two to the three and even the four. I can bring energy, knock down the open shot and help the team win."
Chievous said he's already proved as much as a practice player last year. Teammate Jordan McRae, whom Chievous will look to snag minutes from next season, can relate to the experience.
"My freshman year was a lot like his, except I should have redshirted and I didn't," said McRae, who scored 27 on Wednesday. "I tried to talk him through it. He went through some hard times, but I think it's going to pay off for him."
Asked what the biggest difference is between now and this time last year, Chievous again paused.
Things have changed.
"I think I have the upper hand now," Chievous said. "I was there last season and I know what's going on."
News Sentinel 120, Rice Buick GMC 111: In Monday night's opening game, former Vols Melvin Goins (28 points) and Cameron Tatum (25) carried the load for News Sentinel. Tennessee alum Wayne Chism scored 18 to lead Rice's seven double-digit scorers.
R. Larry Smith Insurance 121, Campus Lights 108: Former Vol Bobby Maze's game-high 32 points powered Smith Insurance past Campus Lights despite 25 points from Tyler Smith. UT's Josh Richardson and Skylar McBee added 23 and 12 for Smith Insurance.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn