Second in a series
Quinton Chievous didn’t want to redshirt last season, his first at Tennessee. But the more the 6-foot-5 all-purpose player from Chicago thought about it, sitting out and fine-tuning his game was the right move for him.
“Now I’ve got the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament four years instead of three,” Chievous said.
How’s that for optimism?
Chievous’ coaches are just as optimistic about him. Ask Vol head coach Cuonzo Martin about Chievous and he breaks into a smile.
“You talk about physical,” Martin said. “Some guys are physical defensively. Quinton’s physical offensively. He’s one of those guys that will beat you up. He’s aggressive and he likes to get to the rim. He plays hard. He battles from start to finish.”
Martin pretty much described his ideal player. He’s never been one to get caught up in star ratings — even though he and his staff are recruiting a host of four- and five-star players for the 2013 class — preferring instead to use his own set of criteria. When the Tennessee coaches first spotted Chievous, they could check off a lot of different attributes they like about him
“He can play the three or the four,” said assistant coach Kent Williams. “He’s probably a little more of a four right now because of foot speed, but offensively, you look at him as a three.
“He’s a physical guy. Very good offensive rebounder. One thing he does is bring energy every day. He’s aggressive.”
There’s that word again — aggressive. Ironically, though he’s the son of Derrick Chievous, the all-time leading scorer at Missouri and a former first-round NBA draft pick, Chievous didn’t play organized basketball until he got to high school. But he made up for lost time by learning from his father, directly, and, much more often, indirectly.
“He taught me a lot of moves,” the younger Chievous said. “But I learned a lot from watching film. He’s got a bunch of old VHS tapes at his house, and I watched those. He could really put the ball on the rim, and I feel like I can do the same.”
If there was one thing Chievous learned from the great players he watched on his father’s game tapes, it was that passivity doesn’t have a place in basketball. He almost takes a football player’s mental approach to the game.
“I’m just super aggressive,” Chievous said. “I see someone in the way, I mean, I’m just trying to basically rip through everybody. That’s just my mentality. My dad helped me a lot with that.”
Chievous benefitted from his redshirt year mentally and physically. The year on the sidelines allowed him to learn Martin’s system and the terminology that accompanies it. He also used the weight room to full advantage.
“I lost a lot of body fat,” Chievous said. “I was about 15 percent when I got here. Now I’m like 7.5. When I came in, I could maybe bench press 165. Now I’m over 225. Losing all that body fat, I feel like I’m a lot quicker and more mobile than I used to be.”
That could get Chievous on the floor faster. He’ll have to prove he can guard quicker defenders if he wants to log time at the three position. And though he’ll almost always be undersized at the four spot, his strength and natural aggression, particularly when it comes to offensive rebounding, will serve him well.
The fact Chievous believes in himself is another plus.
“He’s got plenty of confidence,” Martin said. “He’s a tough kid. We’re excited about him because we think he can fill in at two or even three positions. He’s a guy that can pick and pop, drive the ball, offensive rebound. We think he can really help us.”
Nooga.com will profile Tennessee’s newcomers in a four-part series that will appear during the Vols’ trip to Italy. Next: Derek Reese.