Jaden Springer discusses transition to Tennessee, freshman season

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    Vols freshman guard Jaden Springer met with the Tennessee media for the first time on Thursday afternoon.

    Springer discussed his transition to Tennessee from IMG Academy, his relationship with fellow five-star freshman guard Keon Johnson, his role on this year’s team, what he’ll bring to the program, and being coached by Rick Barnes.

    Here’s everything Springer had to say:

    On the biggest adjustment from high school:

    “The biggest thing from high school to college is probably the speed of the game. So, the biggest thing I’ve been working on is conditioning and trying to get in the best shape possible.”

    On how excited he is to play in Thompson-Boling in two weeks:

    “This has been one of my dreams since I was a little kid, being able to play in a big arena like this at a great school like Tennessee. So, being able to go out there with my teammates and finally have my first college experience, I’m looking forward to it.”

    On how COVID has impacted his experience on Rocky Top so far:

    “Because of COVID, that’s something that impacted not just me. It impacted all college athletes. I feel like we’re one of the more fortunate schools, because it didn’t hit us too hard. So, we still got to come in here over the summer and got work in as a team, and we got after it every day since then.”

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    On his relationship with Keon Johnson:

    “We’re roommates, so we’re with each other almost every day. Being able to hang around him and getting to know him more than I did before, that’s something pretty big, because we compete on the court and chill with each other off the court. Like he said, we play Madden, so it’s just a good relationship.”

    On if Keon Johnson has surprised him with his ability as a fellow five-star freshman:

    “I’ve known Keon (Johnson) for a minute now. We played with each other in AAU back in eighth grade. In practice, he definitely does surprise me sometimes, because he’s a great talent. He’s high-jumping and stuff like that. Being able to watch him is fun.”

    On the biggest adjustment from high school:

    “Pretty much it can go both ways. From high school to college is definitely a big difference with the speed and the pace of the game. Also, when you come to college you have to learn the new stuff, new offenses. You really start to build your IQ for the game, so that’s definitely a big help.”

    On the talent around him:

    “Yves (Pons), Fulky (John Fulkerson), pretty much everybody on the team is really skilled, so being able to compete with them every day is definitely going to make you better.”

    On his offensive game:

    “I feel like I can create for my teammates. I can drive, and I can attack space and really open things up for me and everybody else that’s on the court with me.”

    On how IMG prepared him to play in college:

    “Being able to go to a school like IMG and being able to play with other top talented guys is definitely a big help. You’re used to having other people you can count on and not having to do everything by yourself. So that’s definitely helped me with this transition so far.”

    On what sets him apart from other guards:

    “I feel like on the defensive end I can get down and lock up on defense. On the offensive end, I can score the ball and create open shots for my teammates. I feel like I’m pretty good on both sides of the ball.”

    On figuring out his role as a five-star recruit:

    “You really just have to look at everyone else around you, see how they play, and figure out what you can do to come on the court and help to make the team better. You just have to look to lift the team and not do anything to bring anybody down.”

    On if most freshman have a defensive mindset coming into college:

    “I don’t really know how everybody else thinks, but for me, I’ve always been one to want to play defense and not let the other team score or let anybody get easy free points on you. That’s just really always been my mindset.”

    On the impact he hopes to have this season:

    “I definitely want to be able to get out there and compete with the team and be able to help the team win games, and just give it my all every time I step on the court.”

    On the teammate he looks up to:

    “There’s been a few guys on the team that have helped me through practice and through anything we’ve been going through. I could say Ticket (Davonte Gaines), Josiah (Jordan-James), Fulky (Fulkerson), Yves (Pons). Those guys are talking to me and letting me know what to do and what I should’ve done. Being able to have teammates like that is definitely going to help me become a better and smarter basketball player.”

    On how much time he has spent playing point guard during practice:

    “Last year at IMG definitely helped me and being able to come here I can take that to another level now being with coach Barnes. He’s big on the point guard spot. Being able to get those reps in practice and when we scrimmage and get up and down, that’s definitely a big help for whenever the game comes around.”

    On if Keon Johnson is the better defender:

    “That’s not really up for me to say, but we both can get after it, and we’re both dogs on defense.”

    On if the competition with Keon Johnson makes him better:

    “I don’t really think we look at it and see who’s better than who, but we know that we can both go out there and compete and get the job done on defense.”

    On what it’s like to be coached by Rick Barnes:

    “Coach Barnes really knows the game of basketball. I’ve never had a coach like him, so being able to play under him and keep learning the game from what he’s showing us is definitely a big thing for me.”

    On the chemistry amongst the guards:

    “I’ve been around these guys every day, so I know how good they are. I can go out there and play with each one of them. I feel like we all know each other pretty well by this point.”

    On if he has had a moment where Coach Barnes has really gotten after him in practice:

    “I feel like everybody on the team gets those. You know it’s coming. You know you messed up when you should’ve done something else on a certain play. You’ve got to get prepared for it. Don’t take it for the way he’s saying it. You’ve got to listen to what he’s actually saying.”

    On what college has been like so far:

    “It’s been pretty good for me, because we’ve got a great staff. They really help us out with finding out where we need to go or what we need to do and all the stuff we need to get done.”

    On his goals for this season:

    “I wouldn’t say championship or bust, but I feel like with the talent we have and the team we have, we could definitely take it all the way if we play up to what we’re supposed to.”

    On how fellow freshman Corey Walker is doing:

    “That’s another one of me and Keon’s roommates. He’s with us every day too, so we’ve seen him grow since we first got here. The main thing with him is probably his size. He can move. He can play from the two, the three, the four even. He’s a guy that can pretty much do it all.”

    On if he’s worried about the season not taking place:

    “Early in this year that was something I was worried about but seeing how things are going now I feel like we’re getting a lot better. There’s more precautions that we can do to be able to keep playing while COVID is going on.”