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VFL Rae Burrell reflects on her career at Tennessee ahead of the 2022 WNBA Draft

VFL Rae Burrell is gearing up for the WNBA Draft. As she prepares to hear her name called, Madison Hock sat down with Burrell to discuss her legacy at UT.
Credit: AP
Tennessee guard Rae Burrell (12) dribbles the ball up court during an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Lady Vol senior Rae Burrell left her mark at Tennessee. 

She finished her career ranked 36th all-time in program history in scoring. 

On Monday night, she embarks on a new journey -- the WNBA.

Many WNBA mock drafts have Burrell as a projected first-round pick.

For Burrell, her path at Tennessee was anything but straight.

"Control what you can control," Burrell said. "Because you never know what situation you’re going to get put in.”

Burrell is the only player remaining in Tennessee’s 2018 recruiting. She watched three of her classmates transfer and decided to stay at Tennessee through a head coaching change.

“Not everybody gets to be a Lady Vol," Burrell said. "I feel like this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I got to take and now I get to be a part of it forever.”

Burrell made strides in her junior season, becoming the Lady Vols' best player. She led the team in scoring and rebounding and was a dominating force on the court.

Then, to start her senior season, the adversity struck once more. She went down with a right knee injury in the opening game of the season, causing her to miss 12 games in her final season at Tennessee.

“It was tough," Burrell mentioned. "It was really hard. I just had to lean on my friends and family to lift me up and keep me positive. I couldn’t control the situation, but I could control my attitude toward it. I just tried to keep a positive attitude. There were times where I didn't know if I would return to the court."

However, Rae Burrell not only returned to the court, but she also returned with a force.

She finished the season as Tennessee’s second-leading scorer with 13 points per game, and lead the lady Vols to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2016. Burrell scored a season-high 22 points in Tennessee’s Sweet 16 loss to Louisville.

"Coming in as a freshman, you don’t really know what to expect," Burrell explained. "I was playing minimum minutes as a freshman. After playing with the team, I knew I could make an impact. That was my goal, was to make an impact, and to say that I did, it’s unbelievable to me."

Now, Burrell is ready to write the next chapter in her career, announcing her plans to declare for the 2022 WNBA Draft. She's a projected top-10 overall pick.

Burrell is one of 12 prospects given an invite to the WNBA Draft.

"I’ve got mixed emotions right now. One day I’m excited. One day I’m nervous. The next day I’m a little anxious, and then I’m excited again.”

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