KNOXVILLE (WVLT) - The Tennessee basketball team set the tone for its season Wednesday -- not by shooting hoops or running defensive drills, but by serving in the Knoxville community.
Several members of the team visited the East Tennessee Children's Hospital, where they signed autographs and spent time with young fans.
"When we walk in, it's wonderful to see their faces light up," junior guard Tanner Wild said. "They're just smiling and jumping around."
The players enjoyed using their high-profile status to impact the children and their families.
"They're gonna remember that when they get older," said sophomore center Wayne Chism. "Some people might be in the NBA, and they'll say, 'they came to the hospital, they came to see me, and I got their autograph,' so it's good to go and do that."
The visit hammered home a stark reality to the players: while they labor daily on the court, their struggle for success pales in comparison to the battles the children fight every day.
"Theirs is much more important when it comes to the grand scheme of things," said sophomore walk-on Quinn Cannington. "But I think hopefully us coming by and hanging out with them a little bit...when we work on teamwork in practice, I hope this builds teamwork for them too, gettting together and all fighting, to help them out too."