KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Making it to the pinnacle of NCAA Division I basketball has all sorts of hurdles, and one member of the Lady Vols has been challenged to overcome more than she could have imagined.
Born in London, England, redshirt junior forward Cheridene Green was determined to accomplish her goal of playing basketball at the highest levels. Playing for the Great Britain U20 team, Green sees representing her country as a high honor, yet something in her basketball career still eluded her.
Like many of her peers, earning a scholarship to study abroad and play basketball at a D-I school in America is a goal from the start. After many strong years of development, Green had offers on the table from Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Arizona State and others coming out of high school, but the future Lady Vol knew that she needed some more time to hone her skills.
Declining scholarship offers from various D-I programs, Green chose to go to junior college first, using connections to enroll in ASA College in Brooklyn, New York.
“I was pushing myself a lot, and I really wanted to be more versatile and extend my game,” said Green. “I told my coach that, so he really worked hard with me every day.”
Taking the junior college route paid off for Green, dominating her competition at ASA College. Averaging a double-double both seasons (20.5 ppg./16.5 rpg. in 2015-16 and 13.4 ppg./11.1 rpg. in 2014-15), Green’s plan was going the way she envisioned, until a game in February of her sophomore season changed everything.
Suffering a major right knee injury, Green’s stellar season came to an abrupt end. Unsure where the next step was in her career, a call from a familiar voice pointed her in the right direction.
Lady Vols’ assistant Sharrona Reaves had recruited Green when the coach previously was at West Virginia. Because of the relationship they had built during that process, Green decided to oblige Reaves and pay a visit to Tennessee.
“I was actually studying and I got the call from Coach Reaves, and I knew her before from West Virginia,” said Green. She was kind of breaking it down and explaining the opportunities she was giving me, so I had to trust her because it was kind of last minute in a way.
“I was thinking about Syracuse and Rutgers at the same time, so I said let me just visit and see how I like it. And, I really liked it.”
Committing to Tennessee fulfilled Green’s goal of earning a collegiate basketball scholarship at a premier program. Even with the scholarship in hand, however, Green understood she had a long road to stabilizing her injured knee.
Sitting out the entire 2016-17 season, Green stuck to an intense rehab schedule. In the fall and early spring, she was able to get back on the court for minor work, such as shooting and simple court exercises.
Recently, Green finally got back to running physical two-on-two drills with her teammates for the first time since February of 2016. Regaining muscle strength around her knee took time, but now she is ready to suit up for the Orange and White this season.
“[The coaches] have been extremely helpful, which was a big shock for me because I expected them to focus on their season last year and worry about the team,” said Green. “They were very supportive and always checking in on me.
“It made the process a lot easier for me.”
Soon enough, Green will become the first international signee to play for the Lady Vols in program history. In an experience full of hurdles, Green has remained determined to achieve a goal that she and her international teammates all share.
“It’s not like they recruited me before my injury; they gave me the opportunity knowing that I had the injury,” said Green. “The feeling is just overwhelming, but in a good way, because I’m so very excited to play.”