Best of the decade: SGs

Choosing Tennessee's best shooting guard of the decade 2000-2009 was an absolute no-brainer.

Chris Lofton is the greatest shooter in Vol history and possibly the finest in NCAA history. He was the best UT shooting guard of the decade by a country mile. The Big Orange fielded some other quality shooting guards between 2000 and '09, however, which made filling slots 2 through 5 quite a bit of a challenge. Having made my excuses upfront, here goes nothing:

1. Chris Lofton: A three-time first-team All-SEC and second-team All-America selection, this 6-2, 197-pounder had a stroke too sweet for words. He started all 128 games he played at UT, missing four due to an ankle injury his junior year. "C-Lo" averaged 13.2 points per game in 2005, 17.2 in '06, an SEC-leading 20.8 in '07 and 15.5 in '08. He played his senior year after undergoing chemo treatments for cancer. His career averages show 16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 30.1 minutes per game. He shot 45.4 percent from the field, 42.2 percent on 1,021 attempts from 3 and 84.2 percent from the foul line. Also a solid ball-handler and defender, he registered 220 career assists and 193 career steals.

2. JaJuan Smith: Though overshadowed by Lofton, his running mate was a heck of a player in his own right. The ultimate streak shooter, this 6-2, 190-pounder from Cleveland walked on as a freshman but earned a scholarship by the season opener. He averaged 1.9 points per game in '05, 9.5 in '06, 15.2 in '07 and 14.4 in '08. Tabbed second-team All-SEC in 2008, he posted career numbers that include 11.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 23.2 minutes per game. In 126 games - 71 of them starts - Smith hit 43.8 percent from the field, 37.2 percent on 681 attempts from 3 and 69.9 percent from the foul line. An outstanding defender, he recorded 183 steals.

3. Jon Higgins: The only thing that could stop this 6-3, 200-pounder from Shaker Heights, Ohio, was his own reluctance to pull the trigger. He started 122 of 124 career games, scoring 6.4 points per game as a freshman, 6.5 as sophomore, 7.6 as junior and 8.9 as senior in 2003. Unselfish to a fault, he averaged just 7.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 30.5 minutes per game for his career. Higgins filled in some at the point but clearly was more comfortable as a shooting guard. He made a modest 40.9 percent from the field and 64.8 percent from the foul line but hit a sizzling 39.8 of his 525 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.

4. Scooter McFadgon: This 6-5, 205-pound transfer from Memphis started 52 of 54 games during his two-year stay at Tennessee. He was the Vols' leading scorer each season, averaging 17.6 points per game in 2004 and 14.3 in '05. McFadgon's career numbers include 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 30.8 minutes per game. He shot 39.3 percent from field, 35.9 on 306 attempts from 3 and 87.9 percent from the free-throw line.

5. Scotty Hopson: Already a two-year starter, this 6-7, 205-pounder has two seasons of eligibility remaining to build his legacy. He averaged 9.2 points per game in '09 and 12.2 in '10. His career numbers show 10.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 25.6 minutes per game. He has started 66 of 71 games to date, shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 34.4 percent on 285 attempts from 3 and 60.4 percent from the free-throw line. He needs to improve his handle a bit, since he has 128 turnovers versus 93 assists to date.

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