KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee center Mercedes Russell will begin her college career as the Lady Vols' most heralded incoming freshman since Candace Parker, a player she grew up idolizing and recently met.
Russell was on vacation this summer when she stopped by a Los Angeles Sparks practice and spoke briefly with Parker, a WNBA most valuable player and two-time Olympic gold-medal winner. Russell said Parker "told me just to work hard."
Russell must follow that advice to live up to the expectations accompanying her arrival. She makes her debut Nov. 8 when Tennessee opens its season at Middle Tennessee.
Russell, a 6-foot-6 freshman, was rated as the nation's No. 1 player in her class by multiple recruiting services. The Springfield (Ore.) graduate was named the Gatorade national high school player of the year.
Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station's FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, 888-835-5322 (TTY), or firstname.lastname@example.org.