The Vols shared an SEC title, made four straight NCAA tournaments, rose as high as No. 4 in the poll, won big games ... and were regarded by most as underachievers.
"We take it up to the next level and then we don't get the national championship and I think everyone was really disappointed," Vincent Yarbrough said Thursday.
"But we did some good around here."
Sometimes that good they did doesn't get the appreciation it should.
Twenty years ago this summer, a 16-year-old Yarbrough summoned the media to Cleveland, Tenn., to announce his college commitment. He could have gone to Kentucky or the ACC powers, but he stayed home and became one of UT's highest-ranked recruits ever.
An athletic, 6-foot-7 McDonald's All-American, he was a recruiting coup, keeping the momentum going during a run of in-state talent UT was assembling, first under Kevin O'Neill and then Green.
"I often ask myself," he said, "'Vincent, did you make the right decision?'
"For me, I think I made the right decision. For me, life is more about after basketball."
Now he's 36, reflecting on a productive college career, a one-year stint with the Denver Nuggets and several mostly satisfying seasons playing in Europe.
Yarbrough works camps (he was at Maryville Christian School this week), offers individual instruction and has several non-hoops irons in the fire. He would like to be more involved with his old school, confident he has something to offer in player development.
His numbers suggest he would. Yarbrough is top 10 in almost every career statistical category at UT.
Only Allan Houston and Chris Lofton started more games. Yarbrough is No. 9 in scoring (1,737 points), seventh in rebounds, tied for seventh in blocked shots, 3-point baskets and minutes played, 10th in field goals, fifth in offensive rebounds, 14th in assists and No. 1 in steals.
No. 1 in steals?
"Great athlete," he said, with a chuckle. "I learned very few things on defense."
The above compilation raises the question why Yarbrough was passed over when a committee selected UT's 20-man All-Century team in 2009.
Ron Slay, the 2003 SEC Player of the Year, was the only Green-era player picked for the team. It's my theory that the fans' sore feelings toward Green undermine some of his players enjoying the esteem they might have, had they played for, say, Bruce Pearl.
Yarbrough scored more points for the Vols than any other home-state product. The top eight on the career chart are imports.
"I talk to Ron Slay all the time," Yarbrough said. "I would put our two careers (at UT) against anybody from the state of Tennessee."
Yarbrough and Slay weren't alone. Most of their teammates were homegrown: Brandon Wharton, C.J. Black, Charles Hathaway, Tony Harris, Marcus Haislip, Harris Walker, Terrence Woods, Aaron Green and Yarbrough's brother, Del Baker.
Memphis, Nashville, East Tennessee -- all were represented on a statewide roster in orange.
"It wasn't just our university on the front of our shirt; it was our home," Yarbrough said. "We took pride in that.
"Largely, I felt it was a success. ... There were some things that could have gone different."
Which could be said of his NBA chapter. The team-first mentality served him well at UT and in Europe, but not in the NBA, where a one-on-one style might have prolonged his stay.
A curse? Not really.
"I never wanted to be famous," he said. "As a kid I read that Michael Jordan couldn't go to the mall or go eat without somebody harassing him.
"I always prayed, 'Please let me make it, but please don't let me be famous.' That's who I am as a person."
Who he was on the court was one of the most productive, well-round Tennesseans ever to play for UT. He should be remembered that way.
Reach Mike Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Strangemike44.