Moore than advertised

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With wings out the wazoo, what the Tennessee Vols really need is a backup point guard. They held auditions throughout 2011-12, with Wes Washpun, Cameron Tatum, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson and Skylar McBee taking turns as Trae Golden's understudy.

The newest entrant in the BPD (backup point derby) might be the one to beat. During a rare open practice Tuesday at Pratt Pavilion, freshman Armani Moore displayed a pretty good handle and some nice passing skills. One no-look pass to 6-foot-9 Kenny Hall, mismatched against the 6-foot-1 Golden on a cut to the basket, was a thing of beauty.

Although he played mostly wing at Mt. Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Ga., the 6-foot-5, 203-pound Moore is no stranger to the point-guard position.

"I didn't play too much point guard in high school because I was always one of the tallest ones on the team," he said. "When a game came down to crunch time, though, I was OK with being the one to bring the ball up the court. And in AAU I played point guard, too."

Given that Tennessee's wing corps also includes McRae, Richardson, McBee, junior college transfer D'montre Edwards, redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous and fellow freshman Derek Reese, Moore faces a lot less competition for minutes at the point. He expects to play there at times.

"I feel like I may have an opportunity to play the 1," he said. "There's really no other point guards here."

Although he isn't a true point guard, Moore believes he has the necessary traits to play the position.

"I feel like my decision-making on the court is a plus," he said. "I'm able to see other people and get other people open.... Being the point guard, you have to know exactly what you're doing. I feel like I'm ready to take control of that, get others involved and stuff."

Tennessee had a good team chemistry last season, and it appears that will be the case in 2012-13, as well.

"Everybody on the team is pretty cool," Moore said. "It's fun getting adjusted because I've got to pick up the speed of the game and everything."

One thing he has learned about his new teammates is that they go all out all the time.

"They all learned to work hard, especially in practice," he said. "It's all about being better. They push me and I try to push them, even though I'm a newcomer."

Because veteran Vols have spent one or more years in a college weight program, Moore finds the path to the basket a little more perilous than it was in high school.

"You have to come in very strong," he said. "You can't come in taking nobody for granted. Everybody here is basically grown men, so whenever you take it to the hole you have to come with it. You can't go in being weak."

Moore has an unusual stroke but, based on Tuesday's practice, he appears to be a good mid-range shooter — relying heavily on bank shots. He appears considerably more comfortable attacking the basket than firing at it from long range, however.

"I like to finish at the rim," he said. "I like to finish strong at the rim."

Moore played pretty good defense in high school. At least, he thought he did. Now that he sees how Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin wants defense played, Moore realizes he must elevate that aspect of his game.

"The first day I was like 'Wow!'" he recalled. "When you step on the court with Coach Martin, you have to be an animal."

Moore will make his Vol debut Aug. 6, when the Vols open a 10-day exhibition tour of Italy. He's understandably pumped.

"That's going to be fun," he said. "Especially for me, not ever going overseas before. It should be a great experience."


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