Chievous warms up

Quinton Chievous fancies himself a defensive specialist but no one would've believed him Wednesday night at Bearden High Gym.

Chievous, a Tennessee basketball signee from the Chicago area, drained a 3-pointer mere moments into Larry Smith Insurance's Rocky Top League game with Ralph Brown & Associates.

Then he made another. And another. And another. Chievous' four-trey barrage helped his team get off to a great start en route to a 125-112 victory.

"When you're hot you're hot," he said afterward, grinning broadly. "The bucket just looked really big to me, and I kept hitting shots."

At 6-5 and 205 pounds, Quinton Chievous projects to play small forward for Tennessee. That 3-point stroke will come in handy when he's on the perimeter.

"With the bigs that we have, I think that's something I can really excel at - shooting 3s," he said. "I can drive and I can shoot but my main focus is defense. I know Coach (Cuonzo) Martin likes that a lot. I bring a lot of intensity and I'm a real big energy guy for the team."

Chievous certainly was energetic Wednesday night. He wound up scoring 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Not bad for a defensive specialist ...

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his Wednesday night performance was that the victory meant a lot more to him than the points.

"I thought I did good," he said, "but the only thing that's important is that we won. We're 3-1, and if we win our next game we'll have a chance to play for the championship. That's my goal. Coming into Rocky Top and winning the league as a freshman ... that would be a great thing."

Although critics discount the Rocky Top League because it de-emphasizes defense and teamwork, Chievous believes he's benefiting considerably from participating in it.

"I think it's great playing against these older guys who are real physical and mature," he said. "It's helping me work on my weaknesses in getting ready for the season."

Asked how the summer league compares to high school ball and AAU ball, Chievous replied: "It's way different. Sometimes they don't play that much defense but the refs don't call as much and it's real physical, so you've got to be strong to play in this league."

Chievous is an RTL teammate of fellow Vol signee Josh Richardson. Playing together this summer should help them develop some on-court chemistry that could carry over once the college season starts.

"I think it helps a lot," Chievous said. "We're roommates and we're always together. We have a great friendship, and we're working hard and working together."

In addition to providing some valuable work with one of his new Tennessee teammates, the Rocky Top League is giving Chievous an advance look at Tennessee fans. They show up in good numbers to support the participating Vols.

"They're great," Chievous said. "When I hit those four 3s that really got them going. You want to give the fans what they want so they can enjoy themselves."

Although he grew up in Niles, Ill., Chievous is quite familiar with the rugged nature of Southeastern Conference basketball. He hopes to be ready for it by November.

"I need to get bigger and stronger because the college game is really physical, especially the SEC," he said. "It's such a great conference that you've really got to be big and strong to play. I also need to work on my ballhandling and shooting."

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