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Olivier Nkamhoua reminisces on 2022 NCAA Tournament game against Michigan

Nkamhoua thinks he could’ve been the difference maker both against Michigan in 2022 and for the Wolverines in 2023-24.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s not very often that a player reminisces about what could’ve been in a game against the team he’s currently on. But for Olivier Nkamhoua, the experience — or rather, the lack of it — speaks to just how confident the transfer from Tennessee is in his abilities ahead of the 2023-24 season.

“There’s been many conversations had about [Michigan’s game vs Tennessee in the 2022 NCAA Tournament],” Nkamhoua said in a Saturday availability. “I know what my answer to how that game would have gone if I had played is, but I don’t know if I want to say that anymore. Because now I go to Michigan, but I guess the past is the past. It was a great game. But it definitely wouldn’t have ended the same if I played.”

Prior to a season ending ankle injury in early February of that year, Nkamhoua had started all 22 games in the Volunteers 2021-22 season, helping them to a 16-6 overall record up to that point. Tennessee would ultimately finish the season as a No. 5 seed, but fall in the Second Round to the Wolverines by a 76-68 margin — something Nkamhoua thinks was because of his injury.

“If I was to speak on the past, I just remember that if a specific person played, the game might have ended a little different,” Nkamhoua said. “There was a couple of problems on the Tennessee team that could have been worked out and that Michigan specifically attacked because of a lack on that Tennessee squad. But it was smart of Michigan to game plan for what their opponent had.”

Flash forward a year, and Nkamhoua now finds himself on the other side of the equation, though the confidence in his ability remains unchanged.

“I just feel like in the offense that they run here, with a guy like Juwan, I’ll be able to adapt my game,” Nkamhoua said. “Still do many of those things that I was doing at Tennessee, but also adapt my game to a more NBA style offense. Get to run plays from different positions and then just ultimately play in a bigger role.”