Cheridene Green’s return to the court has been beneficial for the No. 12 Lady Vols, to say the least.
The London, England, native sat out the 2016-2017 season after transferring into the program from ASA College in Brooklyn, New York. She suffered a right knee injury while with the Avengers and carried the ailment with her to Tennessee.
The 6-foot-3 forward and Tennessee's first international player in the history of the program spent last year rehabbing before jumping into action this season for a much less experienced Lady Vols squad. In her first game with Tennessee, an 87-49 win over ETSU, Green notched seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
And her impact on the year didn’t stop there.
Green currently holds a 57 percent shooting mark, good for second-best on the team behind senior center Mercedes Russell (63 percent). She is averaging 5.3 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per contest, as well.
“Basketball is very exciting for me,” Green said. “I get excited too much sometimes. I just love watching the game, and I love being involved, especially from sitting out (with the injury). So I’m always ready, no matter what, no matter how many minutes I get. I’m always going to be ready to go in.
“No matter if it’s just (to) grab rebounds or to just talk or to play (defense). It’s like I’m just always ready, just excited to play.”
While not starting for the Lady Vols, Green’s usage on the floor often comes at opportune times for head coach Holly Warlick’s team. Her insertion into contests has sometimes helped solidify Tennessee’s leads or turned momentum in the Lady Vols’ favor.
In Tennessee’s 86-73 win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 7, Green’s play in the fourth quarter was paramount to the Lady Vols’ success. She finished the game with 17 points and two steals.
On top of this, her soft-spoken personality has made just as much of an impression on her teammates as her hard-nosed play. Senior forward Jaime Nared spoke at length about the combination of Green’s aggressiveness and friendliness following the Vanderbilt contest.
“Would you guess that someone as aggressive (as Green is) out there (on the court) would talk as softly as she does?” Nared said. “She’s the sweetest person. It’s so funny … So happy (for her) because you see how hard she works. When she’s rewarded like how hard she plays … She’s super-efficient when she comes in the game.
“And I think that’s just a credit to everything that she does that you guys don’t see — in practice — and how strong she is.”
Green’s re-emergence on the court has helped bolster a roster that displays more depth at the post than last season when Russell and then-freshman center Kamera Harris were Tennessee’s only available options as power players.
With Green providing an option for Warlick as a strong forward and center, along with Harris and freshman Kasiyahna Kushkituah on the bench, the Lady Vols’ depth at post has noticeably increased.
That grit may be necessary for Tennessee as it attempts to rebound from a recent cold stretch. The Lady Vols started the year with a 15-0 record but has notched a 2-4 mark in the team’s last six games.
Green may be the Lady Vol's key to getting back into rhythm and this progression will likely feature her now-patented combination of tough play and soft-spoken aura.
“Cheridene could play a minute and have five rebounds,” Warlick said following the Vanderbilt game. “She’s just an old-school basketball player. She’s just your blue-collar worker that goes to work … She’s gradually just building her way back in and getting in shape. We need her. We need her to play coming off of the bench.”