Excitement Surrounding Kellie Harper and Lady Vols Basketball as Team Practice Begins

Photo Credit: Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics
By Chloe Levering

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Lady Vols Basketball head coach Kellie Harper provided an exciting preview of what is to come for the team on Tuesday afternoon, prior to their first practice of the season. High expectations are in store for the Lady Vols, as the team was ranked number four in ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early Top 25 this past summer.

“We’re excited,” Harper said. “I think our team is feeling it. They’re looking forward to this upcoming season and the challenges and the opportunities that we have in front of us.”

The team is going through a few changes, however, as six new members have joined for the 2022-2023 season. Among these new Lady Vols are Justine Pissott, Rickea Jackson, and Jasmine Powell. Harper says the new players have walked on to campus excited and ready to play.

“They’ve come in and had great energy and I’m looking forward to it.”

In addition to the newcomers, Marta Suarez, in her third season with the Lady Vols, will be returning after having an injury last season. According to Harper, Suarez has been doing well at practice and is “chomping at the bit to get back out on the court and playing.”

Additionally Jordan Horston will be getting back out on the court after her arm injury in last season’s matchup against Alabama.

“We’re really excited about how Jordan has looked this summer,” Harper said. “Physically she is, in my opinion, in the best shape of her life. She looks great.”

Harper also stated Horston should be able to bring her usual versatility back to the court, as she can play multiple positions.

The Lady Vols open their season with a game on the road against Ohio State, but not before taking on Carson-Newman in their exhibition game on October 30th.

Harper stated she enjoys the exhibition games because “players can put on a jersey and play in front of the lights.” She said, “I think that’s one of the most important things that the exhibitions do for you.”

However, Harper expects nothing less than a challenge from their first opponent, Ohio State.

“I think we understand that that first game is going to be extremely tough for us. We’ve gotta be ready to go on day one,” Harper said. “They have got to be on top of things now in order to be successful in those games.”

As for the overall athletics program, Harper is optimistic about many of the teams this year, including her own. “Things on campus just feel good. You feel the excitement, not just with your own team, but for other teams,” she said. “I love this place.”

The Lady Vols first opponent will be in the exhibition game against Carson-Newman, which will take place in Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena. The time will be announced in the following weeks.