It was a bittersweet end for Tennessee basketball, but the Vols managed to end the year with an SEC Tournament Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Rick Barnes had a reputation for developing talents, but in this case he was able to answer questions about his use of one-and-dones.
The combination of these players is what led the Vols to the fourth-most wins in school history in a year, and a diverse group of players played a huge part in that event. The individual rewards players have earned here will reflect this.
This article will list the Most Improved Player, Most Valuable Player, and Best Bench Player, Defensive Player, and Newcomer. Each award will have a slide as we continue to look back on the season, and there will be a finalist for each one. Let’s dive into our awards for the 2021-2022 Tennessee basketball team.
Most improved player: Olivier Nkamhoua
Yes, he missed the end of the season, but Olivier Nkamhoua played the first 22 games of the year. After averaging just over seven minutes the previous year, he started all 22 games he played and averaged over 21 minutes. In the process, he took a huge leap forward for the Vols when it came to production.
As UT’s only experienced true stretch-four, Nkamhoua provided plenty of value, averaging more than eight-and-a-half points, five-and-a-half rebounds, and one block per game. He would have been a big help against the size of the Michigan Wolverine in the NCAA Tournament, but the 6’8″ 223-pound junior should be back to make a difference next year.
Finalist: Uros Plavsic
After averaging less than five minutes per game last year, Uros Plavsic was a valuable center, logging over 14 minutes for Tennessee basketball while averaging over four points and four rebounds. At 7’0″ 262 pounds, he started 21 games. Playing the whole season nearly earned Plavsic that award, but Nkamhoua got it for his production when he was healthy.