Dynamic distributor
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Dynamic distributor

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Travon Landry's long wait to be a Vol is over. Maybe Tennessee's long wait for a true point guard is over, too.

After committing to the Basketball Vols in December of 2011, Landry had to wait 11 months before signing a letter of intent last week. Then again, the Big Orange has been waiting for a pure point guard since four-year starter C.J. Watson (now with the Chicago Bulls) completed his eligibility in March of 2006.

Since Watson departed the Vols have tried an assortment of shooting guards at the point — Ramar Smith, Jordan Howell, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze, Melvin Goins, Trae Golden and Armani Moore. Most have performed reasonably well as lead guards but none really fit the role.

Conversely, Travon Landry of Huntington (W.V.) Prep appears ideally suited to the role, mentally and physically. He's exceptionally quick, tenacious on defense, aggressive off the dribble and more inclined to pass than shoot.

"My game is a traditional pass-first point guard," he told InsideTennessee by phone. "I like to get into my man on defense. I like to get all of my teammates involved but I can score when I need to. I'm like a coach on the floor. I talk constantly on the court — offense, defense, during free throws, during timeouts. I try to be as vocal as possible, make sure everybody's on the same page, everybody knows what's going on."

Landry grew up in Texas, playing his freshman and sophomore seasons of high school ball in San Antonio. His father's job required a move to Madison, Ala., in 2011. After one year at Bob Jones High in Madison, Landry was on the move again — this time settling in at Huntington Prep, a self-styled "basketball academy."

"We saw him play quite a bit this spring and summer during the AAU season," Huntington head man Rob Fulford recalled. "We were looking for a specific type of point guard because we have two big-time scorers coming back."

That would be Andrew Wiggins, the consensus No. 1 player nationally, and Florida State signee Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

"We have two big-time scorers coming back, so we needed a point guard to lead and distribute the ball," Fulford said. "His biggest strength is defense. He's a lock-down defender who can really cause problems on the defensive end."

Landry averaged 12.3 points as a sophomore in San Antonio but was mostly a set-up man as a junior in Madison, Ala. He'll be even more of a set-up man in Huntington.

"Actually, he may be asked to do less on his high school team than he will in college," Fulford said. "We just want him to run the offense, be a defender and a leader. We don't need him to score a bunch of points."

That's fine with Landry, who envisions a similar role for himself at Tennessee.

"I see myself being a point guard that gets everybody involved and leads the team," he said.

Landry says he never wavered during the 11 months he was committed to Tennessee and was thrilled to sign his letter of intent.

"I'm excited to make it official," he said. "The big thing is my relationship with the coaches. I feel like I know all of the coaches really well and I feel like I'm going to have a great career at UT."

Landry picked the Vols over offers from Alabama, Vanderbilt, Georgia and Auburn. One key reason was Tennessee head man Cuonzo Martin.

"I think Coach Martin is a great person, first of all.," Landry said. "He's a great coach also. He's going to be 100 percent honest, whether it makes you smile or makes you cry. That's going to help you in the long run."

Martin's emphasis on discipline and accountability is nothing new for Landry, whose father is quite similar to the Vols' head man.

"My dad is retired Army," Landry said. "He's big on discipline, and I think that shows up on the court. My father and mother raised me the right way ... yes sir and no sir."

Fulford believes the Vols are getting a bright, high-character young man.

"He's a great kid," the prep coach said. "He came in with a 3.7 GPA and has a 4.0 here. He's going to graduate with probably a 3.8 average. His father's a military guy, so he's a good kid to have on your team."

Because Landry has focused more on creating shots for others, his own offensive capabilities are still developing.

"His jump shot is improving," Fulford said. "He's very quick, so he can get to the basket. He doesn't need a ton of space.

"He's a better defensive player than offensive player at this point but he's a gym rat so his offense will get better. We don't need him to score. I'm not sure what Tennessee wants him to be but we just want him to run the team."

Apparently, Landry knows how to "run the team" in expert fashion. He guided his San Antonio team to a 26-10 record in 2010-11 and guided Bob Jones High to a 27-2 record in 2011-12.

Travon Landry