« Men’s Basketball 2020-21

Yves Pons

School

University of Tennessee

Position
Forward
Major
Recreation and Sport Management

Classroom

Senior Yves Pons is on track to graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and sport management. Upon arriving in Knoville and enrolling at Tennessee, Pons—a native of Fuveau, France—had to immediately spend time learning and perfecting his English. Despite, the immediate learning curve, Pons has compiled a cumulative 2.8 GPA and has been named a VOLscholar multiple times—earning at least a 3.0 GPA for a given semester—while earning a spot on the SEC’s First Year Academic Honor Roll as a freshman. During his time as a student, Pons has completed multiple practicums and is currently completing his 480-hour internship with the Tennessee Athletics photography department. Pons has shot photos for countless sporting events and team practices, while helping to document UT’s student-athlete-led march for social justice in August of 2020. Pons hopes to use the opportunities from his time as a student to one day own his own photo studio when his basketball playing days end.

Character

The day Pons arrived in Knoxville, he received some of the most devastating news any individual could possibly receive. His adopted mother, Babeth Pons, passed away. Instead of returning home to France, Pons remained on campus and mourned alongside his new teammates and brothers. On the court, he progressed slowly as a freshman and a sophomore, scoring just 96 points in 59 total appearances. Everything came together for him as a junior in 2019-20, as he earned several honors for his improved play. Off the court, as the pandemic reared its head in 2020, Pons and his wife went into quarantine, where he rekindled his love for a number of hobbies. Pons continued to shoot photography. However, these photos were taken away from the sports world and published on his Instagram account, @pons_cam. Pons dusted off his saxophone, rediscovered his love of cooking, all while completing his junior year in the classroom and preparing for his final season as a Volunteer.

Community

In the community, Pons has made great strides to give back to the place he has called home. During his first three years in Knoxville, Pons volunteered with the basketball program at the annual Hoops for Hope event in West Knoxville where he built relationships and formed bonds with individuals with disabilities who used the day as a way to meet their heroes, while showcasing their skills on the basketball court. This past October, Pons hosted a virtual French cooking event that benefitted Make-A-Wish East Tennessee. The event raised $3,850.

Competition

As a junior in 2019-20, Pons blossomed from a bench player to a regular starter. After scoring just 95 points in his freshman and sophomore year combined, Pons started all 31 games last season, while averaging 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Pons finished the season with a school-record-tying 73 blocks, while blocking at least one shot in each of the Vols’ 31 contests. His 2.4 blocks per game led the SEC and ranked 24th in the country last season.

Along with his shot blocking ability, Pons developed the innate ability to guard all five positions on the floor, making UT essentially matchup-proof when he’s on the floor. This placed him on the 2020 SEC All-Defensive team and earned him the SEC’s 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Pons became the first Tennessee player ever to win that prestigious SEC honor. Entering his senior campaign, Pons has been named to the preseason watch lists for both the Wooden Award and the Naismith trophy, while projecting to be a top candidate for National Defensive Player of the Year.