McRae makes history

McRae makes history

He insists he wasn't looking to make a statement. He was merely looking to make a few baskets.

Regardless, Jordan McRae succeeded on both counts. Tennessee's rising sophomore wing averaged a league-record 45.7 points per game in the just-completed Rocky Top summer season. Remarkably consistent, his game-by-game point totals were 48, 41, 46, 48, 55 and 36.

Those are amazing numbers for a guy who basically flopped as a Vol freshman last season. After a spectacular preseason earned him a start in Tennessee's exhibition opener, McRae mysteriously disappeared. He played in just 10 games, averaged 1.8 points per outing and shot a frigid 31.6 percent from the field.

After attempting a mere 19 shots in his first season as a Vol, McRae attempted twice that many (38) in his first summer-league outing. He made just 16 of those 38 shots but found his stroke shortly thereafter. He finished RTL play with shooting marks of 51.3 percent (99-193) from the field, 37.9 percent (25-66) from beyond the arc and 76.1 percent (51-67) from the foul line.

Despite the imposing point totals, he says he wasn't looking to make a statement.

"I was just trying to prove I could go out there and play hard, and that Tennessee can look forward to having a scorer this year," McRae said moments after hanging up 36 points in the RTL championship game.

The prophets of gloom are out in force regarding Tennessee basketball these days. Coming off a disappointing 19-15 season that ended with a 30-point first-round loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, the Vols are without fired head coach Bruce Pearl and five of the top six scorers from 2010-11. Still, McRae sees reason for optimism.

"I believe we're going to have a good year," he said. "I believe some of us players showed (with their play in the Rocky Top League) that the fans have got something to look forward to this year."

One of those players would have to be fellow UT sophomore Trae Golden, who was an Atlanta Celtics AAU teammate of McRae's when both were attending Georgia high schools. McRae averaged 27.0 points per game at point guard in guiding Choice Spine to a 6-0 record and the RTL championship.

"That says a lot for Trae," McRae said. "He had a lot of shooters on his team but he managed to get them the ball and managed to get his shots, as well."

Based on McRae's shooting performance in the Rocky Top League, Golden might be wise to get him the ball as often as possible in 2011-12.

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