The preseason AP women’s college basketball poll came out Tuesday with the media ranking Tennessee as the No. 15 team in the country.
This is the first time in the Kellie Harper era that Tennessee is in the preseason AP poll.
Tennessee is the third highest ranked team in the SEC, coming in behind No. 1 South Carolina and No. 13 Kentucky. Texas A&M is the only other SEC team in the top 25, coming in at No. 23. Georgia, LSU and Arkansas also received votes.
The Lady Vols’ impressive non conference schedule includes matchups with No. 2 UConn, No. 3 Stanford, No. 21 USF, No. 24 Virginia Tech and No. 25 Texas. Non conference opponent Oklahoma State received votes.
Tennessee lost three-time All-SEC player Rennia Davis to the WNBA this offseason, but Kellie Harper’s third team in Knoxville still has talent. The Lady Vols return three of their top four scorers and while they lost their top two rebounders, the next five leading rebounders return.
Guard Rae Burrell’s breakout junior season last winter helped propel Tennessee to a third pace finish in the SEC and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament before Michigan upset the Lady Vols in the Round of 32.
Burrell went from averaging 10.5 points per game as a sophomore to 16.5 points per game as a junior, in large part due to her jump from a 33% three-point shooter to a 40% three-point shooter. The Las Vegas native is looking to carry more offensive responsibility after Davis’ departure.
The Lady Vols are just over three weeks from tipping off their season at Thompson-Boling Arena against Southern Illinois on Nov. 10.