Shooting star

Come to InsideTennessee for all of your Vol basketball needs. Check out this story on a player who is enjoying a spectacular preseason.

The deadliest shooter in college basketball will be wearing Volunteer orange this season. Just ask his teammates.

"I think he's the best shooter in the country, and you'll be able to tell it when you see him play," Trae Golden said prior to Tuesday's practice at Pratt Pavilion. "He don't miss. Ever. I'm not even exaggerating."

Jordan McRae offered high praise, as well.

"He could always shoot but he's shooting the ball now tremendously," the junior wing said. "He's stepped it up tremendously."

Ditto for Josh Richardson.

"He doesn't miss now," the sophomore wing said. "Last year he missed every now and then. Every time I throw him the ball at the 3-point line I start running back the other way because I know it's going to fall."

The subject of this prolific praise is senior guard Skylar McBee. The former walk-on from Rutledge shot a team-best 39.1 percent from beyond the arc in 2011-12 but apparently has become even deadlier since then. Teammates say he seems much more sure of himself.

    Sign up now to join the     Tennessee community.
Free 7-day trial!
"I think a lot of it is confidence," Richardson said. "Every time he gets a look he's going to be shooting it. That's what we want him to do."

McRae added an amen to that, noting: "His mechanics has always been perfect but Skylar's shooting the ball with a lot of confidence right now."

Golden said McBee's heightened sense of self-esteem is understandable.

"Your confidence level is going to be big when you don't miss," he said. "Right now he's just shooting the ball extremely well."

Ironically, McBee closed the 2011-12 season with an 0-for-7 shooting performance (0-for-5 from 3) against Middle Tennessee last March in the National Invitation Tournament. So, why is he so confident heading into 2012-13?

"I think it's just a different mindset," he said. "I'm taking a bigger role -- being the guy that has to step up and make outside shots for us."

McBee should get plenty of looks from the perimeter this season. That's because opponents will be packing the lane to try and contain Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, a burly duo who give Tennessee one of the premier post tandems in college basketball.

"Our post play is really good, and it's going to draw a lot of attention, so I think us perimeter guys have got to be able to make perimeter shots," McBee said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to do that."

Knowing his marksmanship is needed to take some heat off Stokes and Maymon, McBee is putting up a lot of shots these days.

"I usually try to go 200 a day if we're practicing," he said. "On off days it's a little more than that. It's just about muscle memory, being confident and knowing I've put the time in and my shot deserves to go in."

Asked how many of those 200 shots are taken behind the 3-point line, McBee smiled.

"Most of 'em," he said. "One of my roles on this team is to be able to hit outside shots for us, so that's what I plan on doing."

Clearly, McBee has confidence. His Tennessee teammates have confidence in him. So does his head coach.

"He's shooting the ball. The biggest key is shooting it well, then shooting it well with the lights on," Cuonzo Martin said. "We talk about that all the time: You've got to play the same way with the lights on.

"The way Skylar is shooting now, every time he shoots it I think it's going in."

More often than not, he's right.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories