New Vol a 'gym rat'

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Knott County Central's basketball coach will never forget the night that recent Tennessee commitment Camron Justice hung 62 points on Roger Bacon High of Cincinnati in the 2011 Republic Bank Holiday Classic.

"I tell you what: He came to play that game," said B.B. King, no relation to the jazz guitarist of the same name. "We were playing for third place but he's the type of kid that won't quit; he'll fight you to the end. I remember the Roger Bacon game they had three men on him late and he was still knocking it down from 30 feet."

Asked what he remembered about putting up 62 points that fateful evening, Justice modestly told InsideTennessee: "It was kind of overwhelming. I had no idea I had that many."

King wasn't overwhelmed; he wasn't even surprised by the explosive performance, noting that Justice is "as good an offensive player as there is in the state of Kentucky."

The stats support that claim. Justice averaged 25.5 points per game as a sophomore in 2012-13, shooting 53.2 percent (264 of 496) from the field, 39.4 percent (87 of 221) from 3-point range and 82.1 percent (230 of 280) from the foul line.

So, why does Justice have such remarkable offensive skills?

"His work ethic," King said. "He's a gym rat … goes to the gym every day. When practice ends he'll stay an hour after everybody else leaves. I have to run him out of the gym. He keeps shooting."

The 6-foot-2 Justice isn't just a spot-up shooter, however. There's some versatility to his offensive repertoire.

"One thing I like is he can shoot on the move," King said. "And he can create his own shot. He attacks the rim, too. He can shoot with either hand when he goes to the bucket, so he can create a lot that way."

Justice does all of this, even though opponents routinely pull out all the stops in attempting to contain him.

"Most teams," King said, "play a box-and-one or triangle-and-two against us."

And most teams still lose. Knott County Central went 30-6 last season and has been a big winner ever since Justice joined the program as a freshman. That's partly because of his knack for coming through in the clutch. King recalls how Justice sparked a big win as a freshman in 2011-12.

"The WYMT Tournament brings in the top eight teams from Regions 13, 14 and 15 each year," the coach said. It's a big deal; they televise it and everything. As a freshman I think Camron had 45 points in the championship game. That was the first time for us to ever win it, and they've been holding it nearly 25 years."

Although shooting is his greatest strength, Justice has a nice handle, as well.

"It's good," King said. "I've got to play him at the point because he's about the only ball-handler I've got."

Like many high schoolers, Justice's major shortcoming is defense.

"That's probably the weakest part of his game," King admitted. "He's got to work on that. One thing he does well, though, is anticipate."

Justice might need to become more vocal, as well.

"He's kind of quiet but he leads by example," King said. "Our summer ball ended June 22 and he was in the gym every day after that."

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin is very selective in recruiting, focusing on prospects who are quality people as well as quality players. Justice certainly meets that standard.

"He's an A student," King said. "I've got three other juniors, and they all go to the grade schools and pre-schools and read to the students. All of the younger kids love Camron. They want his autograph and all of that. He's a good kid. When we take a trip he's the first one to bed."

Given all of the above, Camron Justice should be a good fit at Tennessee someday.

"I think he'll do fine," King said. "He's a shooter now. His attitude is good. He's willing to learn. He's a gym rat. I think from the first day he's on campus he'll be in the gym. He'll find a way into the gym, whether he has a key or not."

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