Former high school state champion teammates and winners of two of the last four Mr. Basketball awards in Tennessee, J.P. Prince and Dane Bradshaw are together once again on the hardcourt, Prince now a member of the men’s basketball team.
“It’s good to be back home in Tennessee,” Prince said.
Prince, a Memphis native, enrolled at the University of Tennessee early last week after deciding to transfer from Arizona. The 6-foot-6 point guard wanted to play at Vanderbilt to be closer to home; however, he was not granted admission. This act cleared the path for Prince to reunite with his former White Station High School teammate Dane Bradshaw, who carried a lot of influence on his decision to come to Tennessee.
“I’d probably say Dane was the biggest factor,” Prince said. “I really trusted Dane when he gave me a call. He gave me a good recommendation on coach (Bruce) Pearl and the kind of coach he is.”
Prince, who is the cousin of former Kentucky star and current Detroit Piston Tayshaun Prince, averaged 2.2 points and 1.8 assists in just over 12 minutes of action per game last season with the Arizona Wildcats. These modest numbers do not reflect the possible impact he could have on the Tennessee team when he begins playing in January 2008. Bradshaw expects Prince to thrive in this new environment because of his athletic ability, as well as his understanding of the game.
“He’s got a high basketball IQ,” Bradshaw said. “I can see him fitting in nicely with the Tennessee system.”
Another asset that will allow Prince to adapt quickly is his ability to play multiple positions. His length and quickness make it possible for him to match up with most opposing players, and he believes these qualities will allow him to help the team.
“I think I can help with my versatility,” Prince said. “I bring a lot of skill that you don’t normally see at my size.”
Prince’s versatility is already being seen at practice, especially now that he is at or near full strength after an infection resulting from a wisdom tooth removal in May 2006. He was hospitalized for a month and reportedly lost 30 pounds. Bradshaw said that he does not seem to observe any lingering effects from Prince.
“He has already shown his athleticism and play-making ability out here,” he said.
Bradshaw went on to talk about Prince’s ability to bother shots and cause deflections on the defensive end. He thinks those skills will allow Prince to help the Vols when he begins to play next season.
Prince currently has two years of eligibility remaining but is going to appeal to the NCAA for another half season. He played in only 17 minutes over three games at Arizona this season.