Bashaara Graves is a 6'2" freshman forward for the Lady Vols.

She's been named SEC freshman of the week four times in the few months she has played.

She averages 14.3 points and 8.82 rebounds per game, as a freshman.

But those are just the statistics. Graves offers more than just skill to the team -- she's an individual that brings humor, humility and drive to a program and a team that loves her. With several injuries on the floor, Graves had taken on a role for the team she had never expected.

"I've been surprised. I didn't even think I was gonna come in and start," Graves said. "I just wanted to come in and try to contribute as much as possible. I didn't know how that was gonna end up and how my playing time was. I just wanted to play."

Graves didn't expect much in her basketball career. Beginning at eight years of age, Graves didn't take the game seriously until middle school. She just enjoyed the game as a player.

"I was confused," she said. "I was just playing basketball so I didn't really think anything of it. People just started telling me I was good and I was like, 'OK'. I didn't take anything from it because I was just playing. When I first saw a college coach at one of my games, that's when I first started taking it seriously."

Coming from high school to college level basketball was a transition. While her love of the game continued, her focus shifted to a more driven, more competitive style.

"The difference in playing is so much harder," she said of college play. "I'm used to playing in high school with girls who, some of them didn't even know how to play. They were just out there just because they liked the game, they were just playing. But everybody in college is playing because they mean business."

The competition doesn't scare her, she just looks at it more professionally.

"I still love the game, I just take everything seriously," Graves said. "Everything I do, every mistake that I make, I put it on my shoulders. It's more of a job, but I still have fun doing my job."

She said one thing that never changed was fan base and support.

"When I played in high school, the town supported us," she said. "It was the first time that my school had gone to State so there was a lot of support. That's the same thing here at UT. We have a lot of support."

With several players out with injuries and Graves taking on a greater role on the team, she said the burden to play well weighs heavy on her. Losing leaves a weight on her regardless of her performance.

"I still carry it," she said regarding the burden to play well win or lose. "I shouldn't. I'm trying to work on that. Trying to just move on to the next game and not really think about what I did wrong or that we lost in the game before. Just got to move on and get the win the next time."

She said seniors like Taber Spani and Kamiko Williams help guide her through the upcoming games and even years at UT.

"When they talk to us about our future, they tell us to just take our time and enjoy the experience," she said.

Outside of basketball, Graves hasn't yet learned how to have a personal life and a collegiate career. Graves said she's currently undecided, but leaning towards sports management.

"That's my outside," she said. "My education.

"By the time I'm done with school and basketball, I just want to go to sleep."

While Graves said she doesn't really have personal goals, she's just looking to develop as a player on and off the court.

"I just want to keep contributing, stay healthy, be the best I can be and get better," she said.

She said she doesn't think about sitting with peers in class who come and cheer her on at games. The thought hadn't crossed her mind. That said, she wants her classmates and fans to know that there's a side to her that they don't get to see in the classroom and on the court.

"Even though I don't talk that much, if you talk to me, I will talk a lot," Graves said. "A lot of people think I'm just quiet, they even think I'm mean because I don't really talk that much, but I do. It comes out. I'm just a little shy."