Transcript: Lady Vols Destiny Salary, freshman guard/forward Tess Darby, Jaiden McCoy & Kushkituah media avail

Kasi Kushkituah – Lady Vols F / Credit: UT Athletics

Four Tennessee women’s basketball players met with the media on Thursday afternoon over Zoom to talk about the Lady Vols’ 2020-21 season. Taking part in the session were freshman guard Destiny Salary, freshman guard/forward Tess Darby, redshirt-senior forward Jaiden McCoy and senior center Kasiyahna Kushkituah.

Freshman Guard Destiny Salary

On Rennia Davis as a mentor:
“It means a lot having a senior kind of take a freshman under their wing, because seniors can sometimes just keep to themselves, but what she’s done has meant a lot. Her being in the gym with me and helping me with the things that I need is going to help me a lot going forward into my college career.”

On how excited she is to get started with the season:
“I’m very excited. I’ve been counting down the days on my phone and on my whiteboard. I’m very excited to see what me and my team are capable of doing.”

On what she envisions her role being:
“I feel like my role is just being there and bringing energy at all times. Everybody always says that because I’m always smiling and stuff. I feel like my role is bringing energy and just being the person that is there to guard anybody and play really good defense.”

On her comfort level at the point guard position:
“I feel like I’m getting more comfortable at the point guard position. Just having (Jordan Horston) and (Jordan Walker) being there having already played the position giving me pointers and letting me know that I’m doing okay is helpful.”

Freshman Guard/Forward Tess Darby

On playing for Tennessee as a native of the state:
“Being an in-state kid you have a lot more momentum going for you. I’m really excited for my first game in Thompson-Boling Arena.”

On which players have been mentors since she arrived on campus:
“I would definitely say that all of the returners have impacted me in some way, but the one that sticks out the most would definitely be Rennia Davis. Just from being my partner in the weight room, my shooting partner, or whatever it may be, she’s always looking to give me some advice or words of encouragement, and I really like that.”

On what things she has worked on since arriving on campus:
“My strength and conditioning. Getting stronger at this level is important because everyone’s stronger, everyone’s bigger, everyone’s faster. I think that’s really made a difference since I’ve been here.”

On adjusting to a college strength and conditioning program:
“It’s totally different compared to what I experienced in high school. The amount of muscle and weight that I’ve put on here is really impressive, and it’s nice to know that it is good weight that I’m putting on.”

Redshirt-Senior Forward Jaiden McCoy

On if this year has gone smoother having a year at UT under her belt:
“It is a lot easier. I think I am more confident and more excited to start this year, and I feel more confident going into this year, because last year was my first year at this level, but now I am used to it and also the staff, so I am really excited. Physically, I feel really good; I am really confident with my body this year, and I am hoping for a great season, especially from us in general, but for also my body.”

On how important it is being a senior and being a leader of the team:
“Like I said, this a really hard year, so being a leader is super important, especially from all of us like Rennia (Davis), Kasi (Kushkituah), and Keyen (Green). We are all upperclassmen, so we just have to have good leadership, and (it’s) just showing confidence and making sure we do all the little things so that the rest of the season follows through.”

On how excited she is to play in Thompson-Boling Arena next week after much uncertainty the last few months:
“I’m really excited. For a while we weren’t even sure we would have a season, so now that we finally do and there are games and we can see that it is here, I couldn’t be more excited to be back and to play in this arena that I grew up watching and being in.”

On how the addition of Keyen Green has pushed her to improve herself in the offseason:
“Keyen is really good player. She is super aggressive, and she is making the rest of the post players just want to follow suit with her. She is such a strong rebounder and an aggressive player, so she’s making us all step up and is really bringing a great addition to the team.”

Senior Center Kasiyahna Kushkituah

On how ready she is to play actual games next week:
“I am so excited and ready. Right now we are scrimmaging against practice players and against each other, and that’s been really exciting because it has been a while since we have been able to play. And of course it has been longer than expected because of everything that has been going on, so even in scrimmages we are all typically serious, and by the time game time gets here, I’m going to be smiling ear to ear and ready to play.”

On what aspects of her game did she work on in the offseason:
“My physicality and being more physical, and I also worked on just getting in shape. It was definitely a big point for me this offseason, especially when we got sent back home and (during) quarantine. I took advantage of that time. I changed my diet; I ran every single day, and I just took advantage of that time to come back and be in the best shape possible for this team. My shooting has become another positive to my game and (something) I have been working on this offseason. And now, getting ready for the season, I have been working on it a lot and overall with my post game and just taking my time and being strong with the ball.”

On what she has seen from the freshman and what kind of impact they can have on the season:
“The freshman are already mentally strong. They will all come in and are going to do anything and everything for this team, and being a senior and knowing that they are coming here focused, and if the coach tells them to run five laps in practice for them for no reason, then they would do it because they are that locked in. And with that type of mindset, we are definitely going to go far, and they are going to go far this year, too.”

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