Lady Vols freshmen Lauren Avant and Meighan Simmons took different approaches to reach Tennessee's 2010 signing class.
For one, the decision was made long ago. For the other, it took a dream to realize her goal of playing in orange.
"I had a dream about me playing (at UT) before I got here," the 5-foot-9-inch Simmons said of her commitment to sign with the Lady Vols. "I knew the next morning when I woke up that UT was where I was going to go."
Was the decision as spur-of-the-moment for Avant? Not so, says the Memphis product.
"I pretty much bled orange," Avant said. "It's been a lifelong dream."
Despite the different paths taken for the two UT newcomers, Avant and Simmons make up the entirety of the Lady Vols' 2010 signing class — two guards looking to add speed and decision-making ability to Pat Summitt's backcourt.
"We are excited about the depth these freshmen bring to our guard play," Summitt said. "Together, they are a very cohesive pair and love to get after people on the defensive end."
A highly touted recruit, Simmons routinely filled box scores as a senior at Byron P. Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas. In her final prep season, Simmons averaged a scorching 25.4 points per game en route to 3,406 career points as a high school player — a San Antonio-area record.
Yet in just a few short months of preseason workouts, Simmons has already seen improvement as a result of UT's practices.
"I'm really improving on my defense," Simmons said. "I need to work on not rushing many shots, but I think my strongest part of my game right now is just going to the basket and my defense."
Avant's guard play clashes slightly with Simmons' explosive offensive repertoire. As what Summitt calls a "true point guard," Avant prefers a pass-first approach to find scoring opportunities for teammates and to carry the offense. In a 134-game high school career at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Avant recorded 90 double-doubles, seven triple-doubles and even one quadruple-double.
"I'm a distributer," Avant, who committed to UT as a 14-year-old, said. "I like to play defense, and I like to create turnovers, get the team involved. I try to bring a lot of energy to the game."
Playing the role of a Pat Summitt point guard has historically brought even UT's best floor generals to the edge, but Avant's role in the offense is already determined, Summitt said.
"I will be expecting her to push tempo at all times," Summitt said.
Though the two freshmen with different games eventually found their way to Tennessee, one aspect of UT made signing with the Lady Vols seemingly a no-brainer: the team's hard-nosed head coach.
"She's one of the most honest people you'll meet in your life," Avant said of Summitt. "She doesn't sugarcoat anything to you; she tells you how it is. She'll tell you things you don't even want to know sometimes."
"She's straightforward, and she knows exactly what she wants," Simmons said. "She wants the best for her girls, and she's going to do whatever she can to make sure they have the best, and they are the best."
Avant and Simmons join a Lady Vol squad that lost no players to graduation thanks to last season's senior-less roster. But the opportunity to make an impact within a seasoned group of players leaves the duo excited about the work already on the horizon.
"I think being newcomers, you should have to learn and come in," Simmons said. "You should be a follower before you can lead. Having everyone returning and not really losing anybody, we can play with people we've seen before, and we know their game, so that makes the adjustment that much easier."