Will, the team make a move after Zakai Zeigler announced his resignation…..

University of Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler, the epitome of perseverance, will share his personal story of overcoming obstacles when he visits Chattanooga next month as the guest speaker for this year’s Times Free Press Best of Preps awards banquet.

The 5-foot-9, 171-pound Zeigler has overcome a list of hurdles — including tough surroundings growing up, a lack of size, the loss of his family’s home and a season-ending ACL injury last year — to become one of the Southeastern Conference’s top basketball players.

“From an early age, my mom would never let me use anything as an excuse,” Zeigler said during a phone interview Saturday. “She always told me to keep a chip on my shoulder, and that’s something that has driven me through whatever I’ve faced.”

(READ MORE: Zeigler continues to ignite the Vols as their energetic engine)

A three-time selection to the SEC’s all-defensive team and the league’s defensive player of the year this past season, Zeigler has also scored more than 1,000 career points, and this year he was named by league coaches to the All-SEC first team and made the All-Midwest Region team during the Volunteers’ deep run in the NCAA tournament.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tennessee basketball star Zakai Zeigler, who has a remarkable personal story to share with all of our area athletes and coaches,” said Kate Tew, marketing and events manager for the Times Free Press. “Fresh off an electric season in which he helped the Vols reach the Elite Eight, Zakai is a player and person that a lot of young people can look up to, and we are proud to have him as the guest speaker for our banquet.”

The annual event is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at the Chattanooga Convention Center. All athletes and coaches who have been named to a Best of Preps team will receive an email with information on how to claim their free ticket.

Tickets will also be sold to the general public. For information, visit bestofprepschatt.com.

Despite being an unheralded recruit as a high school athlete, Zeigler has worked his way into becoming an elite performer — and not only in the SEC but all of college basketball, with his on-court tenacity nationally recognized.

“His DNA has impacted our program more than anybody since I’ve been at Tennessee,” Vols coach Rick Barnes, who took over in 2015, said of Zeigler during the team’s NCAA tournament run this year to cap a 27-9 season.

During the Big Orange Caravan stop in Chattanooga on Wednesday night, Barnes was asked to elaborate on that comment.

“It’s what you see in him every day,” Barnes said. “He’s a very consistent person. He has loved his family well, and everyone knows his mother and family depend on him in so many ways. You never hear him complain.

He looks at everything as a blessing and an opportunity to get better.”

Zeigler, who is also a three-time SEC academic honor roll student, has said he was molded by growing up in a tough neighborhood on Long Island, New York.

“Before my son was 5 years old, he probably went to more funerals than birthday parties,” Zeigler’s mother, Charmane, told CBS Sports. “It became the norm, because of where we came from.

“Society has given him every reason to just give up on himself. They would’ve given him a pass for that. But he never wanted that.”

After receiving a scholarship from Tennessee, he quickly became the team’s sixth man, scoring in double figures in 12 of the team’s 18 regular-season games in 2021-22 while becoming the program’s first freshman to earn a spot on the SEC all-defensive team.

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