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Tennessee Athletics photo by Maury Neipris / Lady Vols freshman guard Jessie Rennie works on her shot during a practice at Pratt Pavilion in Knoxville this past summer.

KNOXVILLE — At 5-foot-8, Jessie Rennie realized soon into her Tennessee basketball career that she needed to learn how to add some extra arc to her shot.

So she enlisted the help of the tallest person in the program — 6-6 assistant coach Jon Harper — to help her with that, knowing that while she may not always be shooting over players the size of fellow Lady Volunteers freshmen Tamari Key and Emily Saunders, each of whom measures 6-5, she would need to adjust her shot to be successful in the Southeastern Conference.

"Naturally I wasn't shooting as high, so (Harper) would stand at the 3-point line and I'd shoot over his hand," Rennie said.

She also used the shooting gun, which has a high net so she would have to shoot with a higher arc to get the ball over the machine's net.

It's all been worth it for the Australian, who was recruited to Tennessee by the previous coaching staff. Once she received their scholarship offer, she did her homework and realized just how prestigious the program was.

She committed right away.

"Once I knew Tennessee had offered, I was watching all of the girls' games, but when I talked to people back home — especially coaches and older players that have been to college and been through the process — their faces lit up," Rennie said. "They knew the history. I had done my homework so I knew it as well, but the Lady Vol program is known all around the world."

New head coach Kellie Harper described Rennie as a "tough" player.

"She'll stick her nose in on every play," Harper said. "She's savvy; she's not as gifted athletically as some of our other guards, but that doesn't stop her from jumping right in the middle of things."

An ACL tear late in 2017 slowed Rennie's recruiting process, but she's happy with how it turned out.

"I'm in the gym playing against some of the best players in the country," she said, "and I'm getting better every single day. I've been putting in the hard work, practicing hard, and whatever happens I'll be rewarded.

"I'm still pinching myself that I'm here and we have a game in less than a week (Tuesday's exhibition against Carson-Newman). To be a part of the future of this and to pass along to future players is an honor. The facilities, the staff, the way we're looked after is incredible. I'm very lucky to be here."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.

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