Assessing Tyler Smith's impact

Assessing Tyler Smith's impact

News that Tyler Smith has been accepted for enrollment at the University of Tennessee is clearly a slam dunk for the Vol basketball program. Adding a 6-foot-7, 220-pounder with his skill level is a real plus.

Smith already proved himself college-ready by averaging 14.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game at the University of Iowa as a freshman last winter. Assuming the NCAA grants him immediate eligibility at Tennessee due to his father's poor health, he is sure to have considerable impact on the 2007-08 Vols.

For instance:

He'll give head coach Bruce Pearl tremendous flexibility, since Smith is equally adept at power forward and small forward. Tennessee had precious little depth at either position last season. Now the Vols appear loaded at each spot.

As a power forward Smith will combine with 6-9 Wayne Chism, 6-7 Duke Crews, 6-9 Ryan Childress and 6-8 Arizona transfer J.P. Prince to give Tennessee a formidable five-man rotation on the inside. That will enable 6-9, 300-pound freshman Brian Williams to develop slowly, perhaps even redshirt.

As a small forward Smith will combine with Prince and 6-6 freshman Cameron Tatum to give Tennessee a trio of long-armed perimeter players to complement scrappy but undersized JaJuan Smith.

Naturally, a guy with Tyler Smith's talent is going to warrant 20-30 minutes of playing time per game. With eight of the Vols' top nine players back from 2006-07, how can Pearl ration the minutes to keep so many deserving players happy and productive?

Possible solution: Crews plays roughly 20 minutes per game in the post, with Chism playing 15 and Childress 5. Chism, Childress and Prince get around 8 minutes each at power forward, with Tyler Smith getting 16. Tyler Smith, Prince and Tatum get approximately 6 minutes each at small forward, with JaJuan Smith getting the other 22.

That leaves Chris Lofton to play 25 minutes at off guard, with Josh Tabb playing 10 and Jordan Howell 5. Lofton and Howell also see roughly 5 minutes each per game at the point, with Ramar Smith getting the other 30.

This is a gross oversimplification, of course, but it would allow Lofton and Ramar Smith to play 30 minutes each per game, Chism to play 23, JaJuan Smith 22, Tyler Smith 22, Crews 20, Prince 14, Childress 13, Tabb 10, Howell 10 and Tatum 6.

Tennessee won 24 games in 2006-07 with an eight-man rotation playing Pearl's uptempo offense and fullcourt press defense. With an 11-man rotation in 2007-08, the Vols just might run their opponents absolutely ragged.

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