Can Tennessee’s ‘Fab Four’ return the Lady Vols to the top?

From left to right -Anastasia Hayes, Rennia Davis, Head Coach Holly Warlick, Kasiyahna Kushkituah, Evina Westbrook. (photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics)
From left to right -Anastasia Hayes, Rennia Davis, Head Coach Holly Warlick, Kasiyahna Kushkituah, Evina Westbrook. (photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics) /
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Hayes knew she needed help, and immediately began texting Westbrook, Davis and Kushkituah.

I was in their ears, ‘If you come here, we are going to be good,’” Hayes said. “I was just trying to get people together to come with me.”

Westbrook was aware of the Tennessee aura legendary coach Pat Summitt built while leading the Lady Vols to eight national titles.

The Oregon native regularly passes by Summitt’s statue on the way to practice, and believes the program can reach those heights again.

I really want to bring the Lady Vols back to where it used to be,” Westbrook said. “Obviously, it’s not been as successful the past couple of years. But we never talk about the past. We are moving forward and only talk about this year and how hard we need to work to be where we want to be.”

Luring so many highly-touted players to Tennessee despite the recent lack of titles is proof to Warlick the Lady Vols brand still resonates on the recruiting trail.

Our sales pitch is the University of Tennessee,” Warlick said. “We’ve got great tradition. We have unbelievable fans. We play a competitive schedule, play in the best conference in the country and we’re Tennessee. Come play for the best. Those four young ladies chose to do just that.”

KNOXVILLE, TN – JANUARY 01: Tennessee Lady Volunteers head coach Holly Warlick and assistant coach Dean Lockwood coaching during a game between the Tennessee Lady Volunteers and Kentucky Wildcats on January 1, 2017, at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Tennessee defeated the Wildcats 72-65. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN – JANUARY 01: Tennessee Lady Volunteers head coach Holly Warlick and assistant coach Dean Lockwood coaching during a game between the Tennessee Lady Volunteers and Kentucky Wildcats on January 1, 2017, at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Tennessee defeated the Wildcats 72-65. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Tennessee’s freshmen got to know each other during the McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games. But the real bonding process began once they arrived at UT.

They put in the work in the gym, and planned activities outside of it.

We get our nails done together. We go shopping together. We play cards together. We definitely love to eat together,” Kushkituah said. “They are basically like my sisters now.”

Kushkituah, who goes by Kasi or KK, is the only post player in the class. She wants to open her own clothing boutique that caters to taller women and serves cupcakes to customers.

A huge Beyonce fan, she’ll sign the lyrics of any song the instant it begins playing.

During Tennessee’s media day last month, Davis drifted over to the chair reserved for Kushkituah and began swaying back and forth as if guided by a melody.

All of us are really close, but we do have different personalities,” Davis said. “E and I are more chill and the other two are more hyped for the most part. But if me and E hear music, we’re dancing and that will get us hyped. Music always gets us hyped.”

Davis puts her her culinary skills on display when the freshmen meet in the dorms. The Florida native wants to own a soul food restaurant once she’s done playing.

Davis became enamored with cooking by sitting on the kitchen floor watching her mother prepare meals.

I haven’t cooked a big team meal yet, but they keep asking me to do that,” Davis said. “I can cook pretty much anything, so whatever they want I will make it for them.”

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