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Player Profiles for the Tennessee Lady Vols’ Transfer Additions

Photo via Miami Athletics

What an offseason it’s been for first-year Lady Vol basketball head coach Kim Caldwell.

Not only did she have to assemble an entire coaching staff in a short period of time after being hired to lead the Lady Vol program, but she had to quickly dive into roster management mode as well. Her first order of business was to re-recruit the players who were already on Tennessee’s roster, and her first big roster victory came with fifth-year senior Jewel Spear’s reaffirmation of her decision to use her final year of eligibility with the Lady Vols.

But Caldwell’s work was far from over.

With Rickea Jackson getting drafted into the WNBA, Jasmine Powell using up her eligibility, Tamari Key electing not to use her COVID eligibility, and Karoline Striplin choosing to transfer, Caldwell had numerous spots to fill on the Lady Vols’ roster to construct her first team in Knoxville. She and her staff wasted little time in attacking the transfer portal, and in less than 45-days time from when she first took the head coaching job, Caldwell and her assistants had landed one of the more impressive transfer portal classes in this cycle.

The Lady Vols technically have a couple more scholarships to play with heading into the 2024-25 campaign, so it remains to be seen if there will be another addition or two to this transfer class. As of now, Tennessee’s four-woman class consists of two former ACC All-Freshmen, a three-year SEC starter, and one of the most efficient rebounders in the country.

Here are brief player profiles on all four of the Lady Vols’ transfer additions in the 2024 transfer cycle.

Note: High school rankings are taken from ESPN’s women’s basketball recruiting service, HoopGurlz. Offensive and defensive ratings are from Her Hoop Stats, and a higher number is better for the offensive rating while a lower number is better for the defensive rating.

Alyssa Latham

Former School: Syracuse
Position: Forward
Height: 6-2
Remaining Eligibility: Three years
High School Rating: No. 72 overall (2023 class)
2023-24 Season: 32 games, 27.6 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 47.6% 2FG, 28.6% 3FG, 63.3% FT
Notable Games: 23 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks vs. Alabama; 21 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 assists vs. Notre Dame; 11 points, 11 rebounds vs. North Carolina
Honors: ACC All-Freshman Team
Offensive Rating: 99.9
Defensive Rating: 89.5

Analysis: Alyssa Latham joins the Lady Vols as the transfer with the most remaining eligibility so far. A former top-100 prospect, Latham flashed a lot of athletic scoring ability and solid defensive skills in her first collegiate season in 2023-24. She led Syracuse in rebounding as a true freshman with seven boards a game, including averaging almost three offensive rebounds a game. She also led the team in blocks per game and in double-doubles (6). She totaled 11 games with two or more blocks, including racking up five against Alabama and six vs. Louisville. She earned ACC All-Freshman honors for her efforts. Though her free throw shooting numbers were below average, she showed plenty of potential with her ability to attack the basket and played well against some of the tougher opponents on Syracuse’s schedule this season.

Lazaria Spearman

Former School: Miami
Position: Forward
Height: 6-4
Remaining Eligibility: Two years
High School Rating: No. 30 overall (2022 class)
2023-24 Season: 30 games, 18.7 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 51% 2FG, 44.8% FT
Notable Games: 14 points, 7 rebounds vs. Clemson; 12 points, 10 rebounds vs. North Carolina; 11 points, 15 rebounds vs. Mississippi State
Honors: N/A
Offensive Rating: 95.1
Defensive Rating: 86.0

Analysis: Despite averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game, Lazaria Spearman led Miami in rebounding with six boards per game as a sophomore. Her rebound rate of 17.8% was one of the best in the entire country this season, and she was an elite offensive rebounder when she was on the floor. It will be interesting to see what Spearman can do with more minutes if she receives more at UT, because her efficiencies were very solid in her 18.7 minutes per game this year. The 6-4 forward totaled four double-doubles this season, and two of those came in Miami’s final three games of the year. Spearman closed out the 2023-24 campaign with three of her better games, averaging 10.7 points and 8.3 boards in the Hurricanes’ final regular season game and two ACC Tournament games. She doesn’t shoot threes and really needs to improve her free throw shooting, but Spearman will bring a tenacity on the boards the Lady Vols definitely need and is no slouch defensively.

Samara Spencer

Former School: Arkansas
Position: Guard
Height: 5-7
Remaining Eligibility: One year
High School Rating: N/A (2021 class)
2023-24 Season: 33 games, 34.6 MPG, 13.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 37.9% 2FG, 26% 3FG, 74% FT
Notable Games: 31 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals vs. Alabama; 24 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks vs. Texas A&M; 20 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals vs. LSU
Honors: 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year
Offensive Rating: 89.6
Defensive Rating: 94.0

Analysis: Samara Spencer brings a wealth of SEC experience to the Lady Vols after spending three seasons as a point guard for Arkansas, so she’s well aware of what it takes to be successful in this league. Spencer’s shooting numbers took a big dip this past season, but she wasn’t the only Razorback to have that setback; the entire Arkansas squad took a big step back offensively from the previous year. Still, Spencer was a consistent scoring threat, eclipsing the 20-point mark six times in 33 games and totaling 10 or more points in all but seven games. Spencer holds a career assist/turnover ratio of 1.26 and has been an exceptional rebounder for her smaller stature at 5-7. She averaged a career-high 4.6 boards a game this season and averages four rebounds a game in her career, including an even more impressive 4.3 boards per game in SEC play. She was third on the team in rebounds for Arkansas this year and led them in assists all three seasons she played there.

Ruby Whitehorn

Former School: Clemson
Position: Guard
Height: 5-11
Remaining Eligibility: Two years
High School Rating: No. 15 overall (2022 class)
2023-24 Season: 31 games, 28.7 MPG, 12.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 53.5% 2FG, 27.5% 3FG, 69.2% FT
Notable Games: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists vs. Mississippi St.; 18 points, 14 rebounds vs. Florida St.; 17 points, 10 rebounds vs. Notre Dame
Honors: 2023 ACC All-Freshman Team
Offensive Rating: 91.2
Defensive Rating: 95.2

Analysis: A former McDonald’s All-American, Ruby Whitehorn hails from the same high school as former Lady Vol standout Rickea Jackson. Whitehorn’s penchant for steals should make her a great fit in Kim Caldwell’s system, as she totaled two or more steals in just about half of her games this past season (15). She was a consistent scorer for Clemson this season, totaling double figures in 21 of her 31 games and topping 17 or more points in nine of those contests. Whitehorn closed the 2023-24 season strong, averaging 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds over Clemson’s final six games of the season, which included her first two career double-doubles. She was an ACC All-Freshman in the 2022-23 season and built off that success with an even better sophomore campaign. Whitehorn improved all her shooting percentages from her freshman season to her sophomore year, and if she continues that trend for her first season at Tennessee, she could blossom into an All-SEC player.

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