With a deep senior class and a perennial All-SEC forward in Jarnell Stokes, the Vols won't need to rely heavily on the talents of freshman Armani Moore and Derek Reese. But that doesn't mean the two freshman won't have an impact on the Volunteers this season.
"We recruited these young men for a reason," head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "They have good skills, they know how to play the game of basketball and they are quality ballplayers."
Moore, a 6-foot-5 guard from Kennesaw, Ga., will see time this year as the backup to junior Trae Golden at the point guard position.
"I like what I've seen from him so far," Golden said. "We have some of the same characteristics. We both like to drive, we both are more of a scoring point guard but don't mind passing if it's what the offense calls for."
Moore averaged 22 points his senior season at Mt. Paran Christian School but realizes if he is going to fit into Martin's system he will have to adapt to running an offense that goes through the post.
"I've been working on my dribbling. You know as a point guard I have to be able to handle it well. There's always room to get better, so each and every day that's what I try to do," said Moore.
Martin is confident in the freshman's ability to learn the system, but also doesn't want to change what makes Moore such a dynamic player with the basketball.
"He is good at what he does so we don't want to change the type of ballplayer he is," said Martin. "He has the ability to penetrate off the dribble and that's a real strength of his and is something that can open up looks for some of our other guys. But with that we still like to move the ball, have touches down low. I like what he brings, though."
To Moore, the team's trip to Italy over the summer was important to helping him mesh with his new teammates.
"It was a great experience," said Moore. "It helped me adjust to the college flow, get to learn my team, and I feel like it was beneficial to me."
The freshman started his career as a Volunteer off on the right foot in the team's exhibition game against Victory University at the beginning of the week. Moore scored 11 points, brought down four rebounds and snatched three steals in 20 minutes of action.
"I was a little nervous playing in front of the crowd in Thompson-Boling Arena," Moore said. "When I was in high school you see all the replays, the crowd and the jumbotron. It was crazy looking up and seeing myself on the jumbotron."
There was an adjustment period but the guard feels he is ready now.
"I feel I have gotten the nerves out now," he said. "From now on I think it is just like any other basketball game and I can block out all of the other stuff."
As for Reese, the freshman did not see any playing time in Monday's exhibition.
Martin has stressed that the Florida native will be an important player in the Volunteer program.
"He has a good skill set. He has a nice shot and has the ability to make plays off the dribble," Martin said.
Reese is enjoying his time on campus so far.
"Knoxville's different from Florida, but it's been great so far. I like the campus and the team is great to be around," Reese said.
Tennessee is deep this season, but the freshman will be figures on the Vols' team for the next couple of seasons.