KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – University of Tennessee standout student-athlete Rennia Davis has been selected as the recipient of the 2020-21 Senior CLASS Award in NCAA Division I women’s basketball.
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I women’s basketball coaches, national basketball media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding student-athlete in Division I women’s basketball. Davis is the first Lady Vol basketball player and only the third UT student-athlete to earn the Senior CLASS Award, joining softball’s Madison Shipman in 2014 and Meghan Gregg in 2018.
She follows in the footsteps of recent women’s hoops winners Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon), Megan Gustafson (Iowa), Breanna Stewart (UConn) and Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), and is just the third SEC woman to be honored in basketball. The others were Seimone Augustus (LSU) and LaToya Thomas (Mississippi State) in 2006 and 2003, respectively.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.
“Being a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee has pushed me and required a commitment in so many areas of my life,” Davis said. “I have embraced that challenge as a Lady Vol, and I appreciate the opportunities for growth that I have been given. By nature, I am an introvert, and I have been encouraged and empowered to step outside of my comfort zone, especially in my role as a senior on our team and as a member of the VOLeaders program. I am grateful for those experiences.
“Among my goals are playing in the WNBA and one day owning my own restaurant. My development on the court and my pursuits academically have prepared and positioned me to pursue those dreams. Learning the importance of work ethic, leadership, team building, sacrifice and selflessness, however, are some of the intangibles that will help me reach those goals. I feel prepared to succeed as I begin my next chapter, and I am thankful to everyone who has contributed to that process.”
Second-year Lady Vol head coach Kellie Harper was able to provide an atmosphere of development for Davis and witness her pupil’s growth on the court and off over the past two seasons.
“I am pleased to see Rennia recognized for her combination of impressive achievements on the court, in the classroom, in the community and on our campus,” Harper said. “Not only does she work extremely hard to be a strong student and one of the nation’s top basketball players, she is able to balance her time well and demonstrate a commitment to giving back to others through leadership initiatives and charitable activities. Whether it’s in professional basketball, as a potential business owner/operator or someone engaged in her community, Rennia has a very bright future and we’re all very proud of her.”
Davis, a 6-foot-2 forward from Jacksonville, Fla., averaged 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game to pace Tennessee in both categories this season. She shot 48.0 percent from the field and 85.3 percent at the free-throw line. Even better in SEC play, Davis put up 20.0 ppg. and 9.0 rpg. while shooting 52.3 percent from the floor and 85.2 at the charity stripe.
Her worksheet also included 10 double-doubles and 10 games of 20 or more points, leading UT to a 17-8 final record, a third-place mark of 9-4 in SEC play, a No. 13 AP national ranking and advancement to the NCAA Tournament Second Round for the first time since 2018.
Davis earned All-SEC accolades for the third time in her career, including first-team honors the past two seasons. She also was an AP All-America Honorable Mention choice for the second time, a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award and a repeat candidate as well for the Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and John R. Wooden Award.
From a career standpoint, the projected first-round pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft concluded her UT tenure fourth all-time among Lady Vols in double-doubles with 39, trailing only Chamique Holdsclaw (57), Mercedes Russell (46) and Candace Parker (45). She was fifth in career 20-point scoring games with 23.
In the Lady Vol record book, Davis wound up ninth in scoring (1,815) and points per game (15.4), 10th in rebounds (947) and sixth in rebounds per game at 8.03 rpg. Additionally, she finished sixth in free-throw percentage (.816), eighth in field goals attempted (1,477) and ninth in field goals made (696).
Davis is and has always been a very committed student, completing a college associate of arts degree while still in high school.
She earned a degree at Tennessee in only three years in hotel, restaurant and tourism management with a minor in business administration. After completing that degree in May 2020, Davis began work on a master’s in agricultural leadership, education and communications. She earned 2019-20 Chancellor’s Honors for Extraordinary Academic Achievement for her work in the classroom. Davis is a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and is in line for her third such honor this season.
Due to her character and leadership potential, Davis was chosen for the 2019-20 VOLeaders Academy. By using their platform in sport, student-athletes admitted into the VOLeaders Academy learn how to positively impact their team, campus, and local and global communities. The program aims to inspire student-athletes to find ways to use their passion of sport and their influence to enact positive change that transcends their athletic success.
As part of that experience, Davis and her fellow VOLeaders would have had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and immerse themselves in exercising their leadership and service capabilities. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic, that trip was cancelled. Davis, though, continued to impact her team, our university and the local community through her positive actions.
Davis has logged over 50 hours of service in and around the Knoxville community over the last four years. She has spent her free time serving at the Love Kitchen, a local soup kitchen in East Knoxville, visiting sick and injured patients at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and participating with the Lady Vol basketball team at the Hoops for Hope event supporting the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee.
She also has volunteered at the annual Community Holiday Meal, where student-athletes serve individuals from the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission a meal. Additionally, Davis has participated in the women’s basketball team’s annual Christmas party, cookie decorating and gift giving for a deserving family in the Knoxville area.
“Rennia Davis has personified the Senior CLASS Award during her four years at Tennessee,” said Erik Miner, Executive Director of the Senior CLASS Award. “She has excelled both on the court and in the classroom, as evidenced by the countless accolades she has received. Rennia has shown tremendous character by dedicating her time to better the Knoxville community. It is our honor to congratulate Rennia Davis and the University of Tennessee for winning this prestigious award.”
For more information on all of the finalists, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.