McBee on Vol rookies

McBee on Vol rookies

Some folks seem concerned that Tennessee basketball signees Josh Richardson and Quinton Chievous aren't averaging 20 points per game apiece in the Rocky Top League this summer.

One Vol who has played in the league the past three years believes those concerns are unfounded. Rising junior Skylar McBee figures Richardson and Chievous benefit each time they take the floor, whether they score loads of points or not.

"I think it's good for them to come out here and get a taste of college basketball," McBee said. "It's a big jump from high school to college and a big adjustment. I think they're making it pretty good."

Another reason Richardson and Chievous aren't scoring points in bunches may be the fact they play for Larry Smith & Associates, which features three of the RTL's top scorers and most experienced players in post-collegians D'Mario Curry, Boo Jackson and Tony White, Jr.

After competing with and against the Vol rookies in some pickup games, McBee is convinced that Richardson and Chievous are capable of contributing for the Big Orange in 2011-12.

"They're going to succeed," he said. "I think they're great guys, as well as great basketball players. I think they're really going to be good additions to our program. They're going to be a positive thing for us."

Although defense and teamwork are generally lacking during the Rocky Top season, McBee believes the summer league provides tremendous benefits for players and fans alike.

"It's just a good chance for the fans to come out and get a look at us before the season starts," he said. "It's especially nice for these young guys to experience what it's like playing before these fans in Tennessee. We play with each other the entire season, so it's nice to come out here and play against each other, have some friendly competition. Plus, you play against some people that we (Vols) will never play against (during the college season)."

The Rocky Top League also provides a laboratory in which players can experiment a bit. As McBee put it: "I think this is a good chance to come out and work on things you're not strong at, work on the weak parts of your game and make those better."

Primarily a stand-still shooter, McBee described his play this summer as "all right" and noted that he's working on expanding his offensive repertoire.

"I'm definitely working on being able to come off the dribble and shoot it a little bit, not just stand and shoot," he said. "And I'm working on my ballhandling and defense ... always."

After playing exclusively shooting guard as a freshman in 2009-10, McBee played some point in 2010-11. Asked what position he expects to play most in 2011-12, he shrugged.

"I'm going to play where Coach (Cuonzo) Martin puts me," he said. "Whether that's 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 ... wherever I need to be to help us win."

Minus five of the top six scorers from last year's team, the Vols obviously need McBee to improve considerably on his 3.0 points-per-game average of 2010-11. Because Tennessee projects to be a low-scoring team, he'd better become a shut-down defender, too.

"I definitely have to hit outside shots and play perimeter defense," McBee said. "That's what our game is going to be about - making it hard for teams to score - and I think we'll do that."

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