Between the Bruce Pearl scandal and a 30-point loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the 2010-2011 season was rather embarrassing for the Tennessee Volunteers basketball program. Now it is up to new head coach Cuonzo Martin to get the team back on the right track.
With five of their top six scorers gone from last season, including the early departures of Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson to the NBA Draft, the Volunteers have plenty of turnover on their roster. They will rely on niche players from a year ago to play major roles this season.
The top returning player is Cammeron Tatum. He is athletically gifted but struggled shooting the rock last season. Tatum will have to develop into the team�s go-to scorer as he is the only player to average more than three points per game in 2010-11.
Wing Jordan McRae figures to join Tatum in the starting lineup. He only played in ten games last season but brings a lot of athleticism to the table. Three-point threat Skylar McBee will be one of the top options off the bench while freshmen Josh Richardson and Quentin Chievous try to work themselves into the rotation.
Trae Golden takes over the full-time point guard duties now that Melvin Goins has graduated. Golden is a physical point guard and a solid distributor. He will be backed up by freshman Wes Washpun who is extremely quick but not much of an outside shooter. Richardson may also see some time at the point.
The frontcourt spots are up for grabs. Kenny Hall, Jeronne Maymon, and Renaldo Woolridge all played sparingly a year ago and will have to step into bigger roles. All three guys are skilled but have not come close to tapping into their full potential. Former Pitt Panther Dwight Miller is a load inside and should also factor into the equation while freshman Yemi Makanjuola brings more muscle to the interior.
The Volunteers have a ton of questions entering the season. They are not a great outside shooting team and lack proven production on the inside. Playing in a fairly top-heavy SEC, Martin will have his hands full trying to make it a quick turnaround for Tennessee.
Player to Watch: Jeronne Maymon, F
The former Marquette Golden Eagle has had an extremely disappointing start to his college career. A top 100 recruit coming out of Madison Memorial high school in Wisconsin, Maymon was supposed to be an impact player for the Volunteers after becoming eligible in the second semester. However, he was unable to find a steady role off the bench. Maymon has a strong build but is more of a finesse player who prefers playing out on the perimeter. His work ethic and motivation has also been questioned. If he can finally put it all together, it will give Tennessee a much needed boost in their frontcourt.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/21 vs. Duke (Maui Invitational)
11/22 vs. Memphis/Michigan (Maui Invitational)
11/23 vs. Kansas/Georgetown/UCLA/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
@Black&Gold Problem is that you see Eli and Cobi as solid backups. Truth is that Eli is number 2 and Cobi is our number 3. They aren't backups, but starters. So what you're saying is that we have no true number 2, but see no need in drafting a receiver? What D line depth are you thinking? DE or NT? Have you seen what LT Walton has done? Remember he's only in his second year.
@Steelr Fan 3:16 Coates was supposed to be plan B at number 2 with the uncertainty of Bryant. You make the case that he's a one trick pony and not a 50 catch per season wide-out, so does that scream out as a option for number 2? What gives you hope about Green? I hope he does end up staying on the field, but so far in his career he hasn't be able to do that. I like James, but if he goes down you trust Grimble? He can't block, and hasn't been reliable in the pass game. He did mess his ribs up with a nice touchdown reception a few weeks ago. That still doesn't mean he can pick up and be an impact if James would not be able to go. We have 7 picks in this draft. The first I hope goes OLB. We are good at CB with Burnes and @[email protected] will be challenged hopefully by Golson. Loser of the battle would be a good slot corner. Golson lacks length so they may throw him in the slot role anyways. LT Walton has been more than solid at DE. If Heyward or Tuitt can't go a few weeks during the season then I have faith in LT to get the job done. I like Chickillo and Moates at OLB. They have started and played solid. Williams and Dirty Red at backup ILB is good depth that any team would love. Safety we have Golden and Dangerfield. Both have started any didn't miss a beat. Offensive line? Yeah, we're good there. You say we're good at tight end and WR, so with or final 6 picks we're going what exactly? A RB would be nice with Williams age. A backup that won't see the field unless God forbid Bell gets hurt is a wasted pick anywhere in the top 4 rounds. Maybe 5th would be suffice. That's 2 picks gone and 5 to go. A backup QB of the future would be nice. Four to go. A special teamed lol? Warren, Boswell, and Berry are really good.
Mock I have been developing in various iterations. Did a trade, and was drafting based on data I've gathered via watching college games, NFL games, reading mock drafts, and my own internal evaluations. Please, feedback is always welcome.