Straight shooter

Tennessee's basketball program has added an outstanding 3-point shooter. Unfortunately for the Big Orange Nation, he's an assistant and not a player.

Still, 29-year-old Kent Williams may be able to significantly help a Vol squad that made a putrid 30.0 percent of its 3-point tries last season, finishing 11th among the 12 SEC teams in that category.

Williams was a real gunner as a collegian at Southern Illinois, leading the team in scoring each of his four seasons and graduating as the program's second-leading career scorer. He then spent 2004 in the NBA Developmental League, leading it in 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made.

Following three years as Supervisor of Basketball Operations at Purdue (2005-08), he spent the past three seasons as an assistant to new Tennessee head man Cuonzo Martin at Missouri State. Given how poorly the 2010-11 Vols shot from the perimeter, you wonder how critical outside shooting is in Martin's offensive scheme.

"I think outside shooting is important to any program, no matter what style your play is," Williams said.

Considering how miserably Tennessee shot from behind the arc last season, though, several of the Vols may beyond help.

"You can always help a guy," Williams said. "The No. 1 thing is to give him confidence. If they don't feel good about the shot they're taking, it doesn't matter what their form is: There's a good chance it's not going in.

"You don't want to totally change a kid's shot but you may want to tweak it here and there. It's like a baseball or golf swing; you don't change the whole thing."

Williams already has targeted one of Tennessee's outside shooters for special tutelage in terms of learning to fake the 3, then drive past a defender.

"I was talking to Skylar (McBee) earlier today," Williams noted. "I said, 'You're a great shooter but you know those guys (defenders) are coming at you, so how are you going to get your next shot? If you can't hit a 3, can you score any other way?' That's what we want to work on."

Williams is the second member of Missouri State's 2010-11 coaching staff to join Martin at Tennessee. Jon Harris signed on with the Vols a week ago and has been trying to build some momentum on the recruiting front.

"Recruiting-wise, I think we can get some kids out of the area we're in," Williams said. "Tennessee's a name that's recognized nationally. I know recruiting the South is very important for success here. Coach Harris recruited the South quite a bit when he was at Missouri State; he recruited Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and all of those areas."

Obviously, coaching at a high-major Tennessee program after three years at mid-major Missouri State will require some adjustment. Williams concedes that he, Martin and Harris don't have all of the answers yet.

"Parts of it we're going to have to figure out on the fly," he said. "I know we have some athletes here, so there's some things we may do a little different."

Although Williams will be an on-court assistant with the Vols, he says his days as supervisor of basketball operations at Purdue continue to serve him well.

"When I was there I was at practice every single day," he said. "I couldn't be on the court but I took notes and took that time as a time to learn - to see how kids reacted to coaching, to see what I liked and didn't like out of a practice and relay it to the coaches.

"I was always involved in the coaching side of it."


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