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Lady Vols return to practice, preparing for upcoming season

With Rennia Davis in the WNBA, Tennessee has to replace her production with its mix of experienced players and newcomers.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Lady Vols are back at practice, preparing for the 2021-22 season. The team hopes to take another step forward, after reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament in March. They will have to do so without their best player from last season, though. 

Rennia Davis is now with the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. She finished her Tennessee career in the top-10 for points, points per game, rebounds, rebounds per game, field goals made and free throw percentage. 

"We're not going to be able to replace Rennia Davis with one person. That's just not going to happen," said head coach Kellie Harper on Tuesday.

The Lady Vols, however, do return plenty of experienced players. Last season's second-leading scorer, Rae Burrell, returns for her senior year. She averaged 16.8 points per game, scoring a season-high 26 against Arkansas on Jan. 7, 2021. Junior center Tamari Key is also back with Tennessee. Last season, she blocked 72 shots, which ranked 11th nationally. Fellow junior, Jordan Horston, returns as the Lady Vols' assist leader. 

Tennessee also welcomes a slew of newcomers for the upcoming season. Grad transfer Alexus Dye joins the Lady Vols from Troy. She earned the 2021 Sun Belt Conference player of the year award, leading the Trojans with 16.6 points per game and 12.6 rebounds per game. Four freshmen join Tennessee this year. Brooklynn Miles, Kaiya Wynn, Karoline Striplin and Sara Puckett all enter their first year of basketball on Rocky Top. 

"Sara Puckett can really shoot....If there is a possible skillset on the court, Sara Puckett has it. She is unbelievably skilled," Harper said.

Tennessee starts the season on Nov. 3 against Georgia College at Thompson-Boling Arena.