May 7, 2010
A stirring Q&A with former Tennessee All-America, NBA All-Star and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame nominee Bernard King highlighted the festivities at the Tennessee Basketball Banquet Friday night. Fifth-year head coach Bruce Pearl, along with the entire Volunteers basketball family and more than 800 guests, celebrated Tennessee's first ever trip to the NCAA Elite Eight for nearly four hours at the Knoxville Marriott.
"At these banquets, we talk a lot about teams--but sometimes that is just talking a lot about two or three guys," Pearl said. "But this year it really was about the whole team. It was about the team and the fans--the fans stuck with us the whole way and for that we thank you."
In addition to the presentation of numerous team awards, banquet attendees also were treated to an array of videos documenting Tennessee's incredible 2009-10 season, a glimpse of the work the returning Vols have already begun in preparation for next year and some comedic sketches in which various members of the UT staff poked fun at the players.
"Most years it's the players who make fun of the coaches and staff," Pearl said. "This year we turned the tables on them. We all love each other so it makes it a lot of fun--but I'm sure (the players) are already plotting their revenge for next year's banquet."
King--one of the most decorated players in UT history--became the second all-time recipient of the "Mike Hamilton Volunteer Award." Introduced last year by Pearl, the award is presented to an individual who makes a special gift and unique contribution to the program. Athletics director Mike Hamilton was the inaugural recipient last spring.
"I am deeply honored. Playing for this university was a special time in my life and I will always remember it," King said. "What happened this year was pretty special, too. I will also remember everything this team did this past year for the rest of my life.
"For all of you players here to get a great education at this university, please take advantage of that opportunity. It is unlike any other you will ever get, and it will pay off greatly later in your lives."
A three-time first-team All-America performer from Brooklyn, N.Y., King has been a supportive influence on the Vols over the past several seasons and was described Friday by Pearl as "the greatest player in the history of Tennessee basketball."
Associate head coach Tony Jones presented senior associate athletic trainer Chad Newman with the "Burchfield-Moss Most Courageous Award." The award goes to the Vol who displays the most courage and desire to overcome any obstacle in their way. It is named after Ricky Burchfield, a young man who was afflicted with Leukemia and was "adopted" by the 1969 UT basketball team, and former Vol David Moss, who lost a leg due to cancer in 1975.
Ricky Burchfield's mother, Fredda Burchfield of Morristown, Tenn., was a co-presenter of the award. Newman had previously been named Trainer of the Year by the Tennessee Athletic Trainers Association in part for his heroic efforts to revive forward Emmanuel Negedu when Negedu suffered a sudden cardiac arrest event last September.
Steven Pearl received the "Lowell Blanchard Award," which is given to the player who demonstrated the most improvement during the season. The award is named after the former Knoxville radio personality who joined with the legendary John Ward to broadcast UT basketball games in the 1960s.
Bruce Pearl presented the annual "Coach's Award" to departing seniors Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince. Bone was chosen as the recipient of the "Team Before Self Award," and McBee received the "Best Attitude Award."
Outgoing Tennessee seniors Quinn Cannington, Chism and Prince will join hundreds of thousands of Vol alumni when they receive their diplomas during UT's commencement ceremonies next week.
As a transfer student-athlete, Melvin Goins was tasked with meeting all the new academic requirements in addition to maintaining high athletic standards at his new school. Goins met that challenge and was honored as the player with the highest GPA. Freshman forward Kenny Hall received the "Volunteer Hardest Academic Worker Award."
For their dedication to strength and conditioning, McBee, Hall, Steven Pearl and Chism received the "Iron Vol Award."
Former video coordinator Aaron Green recently accepted the head coaching position at nearby Oak Ridge High School. Green served on Bruce Pearl's staff for the past three seasons as both video coordinator and as a graduate assistant. He suited up for the Vols from 1996-99 and was a two-time Academic All-SEC selection. The Vols' staff presented Green with a UT-themed office chair to be used at his new post at Oak Ridge.
The 2009-10 Tennessee basketball team overcame numerous difficulties and setbacks to record one of the most memorable seasons in the program's 101-year history. In addition to making it further in the NCAA tournament than any previous UT squad, the Vols also posted a 28-9 overall record--the second highest wins total in school history--defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the nation, reached the "Big Dance" for a school-record-tying fifth straight season and finished fourth nationally in average home attendance for the fourth consecutive year.
A total of 10 players are set to return for the 2010-11 campaign, while four scholarship newcomers will join the fray.
Mike Hamilton Volunteer Award
Bernard King (former player)
Burchfield-Moss Most Courageous Award
Chad Newman (team athletic trainer)
Lowell Blanchard Award
Team Before Self
Best Attitude Award
Highest Grade-Point Average
Volunteer Hardest Academic Worker Award