Chiles eager to play point

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With 2013-14 starter Antonio Barton out of eligibility, 2013-14 backup Darius Thompson transferring to Virginia and November signee Larry Austin rerouted to Xavier, many observers believe Tennessee has no point guard for 2014-15.

Ian Chiles begs to differ. Soon to join the Vols as a graduate transfer from IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), he is convinced he can make the transition from combo guard to point guard as a fifth-year senior in 2014-15.

"Coach (Donnie) Tyndall is confident I can come in and play it, and I'm comfortable I can play it," Chiles told InsideTennessee. "When Coach asked me if I could play it, I said, ‘Yeah, I'm comfortable playing both positions (point guard and shooting guard). It won't be anything new for me.'"

He got that right. Splitting time between shooting guard and point guard has become pretty much second nature to him – having done so at Louisville (Ky.) Ballard High School, at Wabash Valley Community College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., and again at IUPUI. Each stop saw him serve as Option No. 2 at the point.

"In high school we had a point guard but whenever he was out of the game I moved over," Chiles recalled. "At Wabash Valley I moved over to point guard when the regular guy came out, and I did the same thing at IUPUI."

Obviously, there's a difference between playing 10-15 minutes a game as the No. 2 point guard and playing 35-40 as the No. 1 point guard. He's convinced he has the tools to handle the job on a full-time basis, however.

"I definitely have experience playing it at the Division I level," Chiles said. "I have great ball-handling skills and I have a general knowledge of the game. That's something point guards have to have. I have athleticism. I feel like I'll be a good fit for it."

He certainly has the stamina to play point guard. He missed six games last season with a broken hand, then played all 40 minutes in his third game back, scoring 27 points.

"I can run all day," he said.

Chiles might have played point guard at IUPUI except for one thing: As the team's primary scoring option, he needed to be shooting the ball rather than looking to set up others. He led the Jaguars in scoring almost every night, finishing the season with an average of 15.8 points per game.

"At IUPUI I had most of the scoring load," he said. "I played a little point guard but most of the time I handled the scoring. Here at Tennessee they want me to come in and play point guard, so that's what I'm coming here to play."

Chiles has the basic requirements of a good point guard: He has a knack for breaking down a defense and attacking the basket.

"I like to penetrate and get into the lane," he said. "I like to draw the defense and look for my teammates. Mostly, I'm a driver. I like to finish and get to the basket a lot."

His stats suggest as much. He shot a pedestrian 31.4 percent from 3-point range last season but excelled on the dribble-drive. Knowing this, opposing defenses ganged up on him whenever he headed for the basket.

"I had to bring my A game every night, even though I knew I was getting double-teamed and the other team's scouting report pretty much revolved around me," he recalled. "I learned to fight through adversity."

Make no mistake: There was plenty of adversity. In addition to the broken hand, he had to cope with a lot of losing. IUPUI struggled to a 6-26 record, with many of the setbacks being by lopsided margins. The Jaguars were so bad that head coach Todd Howard was fired at season's end.

Because he got a medical redshirt due to injury in 2012-13, Chiles could have represented IUPUI as a fifth-year senior in 2014-15. Instead, he chose to finish off his degree and look for a greener pasture. He couldn't face the prospect of another six-win disaster.

"Last season was very frustrating, to say the least," he said. "But it was a good lesson for me. I learned how to fight through adversity, keep going and never give up."

Once he announced plans to transfer, Chiles was heavily pursued by Auburn and Maryland. He passed on the Tigers and Terrapins in favor of Tennessee, mostly because of the immediate bond he felt with Vol coaches.

"I loved ‘em," he said. "As soon as I met the coaches I felt like I was in my comfort zone. I've known (assistant) Coach (Chris) Shumate for a while. He played at Murray State with my older brother, Adam."

The fact Tennessee has a 20,000-seat venue (Thompson-Boling Arena) and a state-of-the-art practice facility (Pratt Pavilion) sealed the deal.

"I love the facilities," Chiles said. "They're top of the line … compete with some of the tops in the nation."

After playing before tiny crowds at IUPUI, he is thrilled at the thought of performing before massive gatherings at TBA.

"Thompson-Boling seats a lot of people, and I want to be part of that," he said. "Another thing I like about Tennessee is the fact my sister (India) was SEC player of the year in softball here. I came to watch her at least 10 times. I probably saw 20-some games because they'd play three in a series, sometimes two in the same day."

India led the SEC in hitting and earned first-team All-America honors during her time at Tennessee. Her older brother will be on The Hill just one year, but he expects his stay to be equally memorable.

"I feel like the coaches have the ultimate confidence in me," he said, "and I have confidence in them that we can get to the next level, take this team on another NCAA Tournament run."

Asked what his expectation is for 2014-15, he paused briefly, then responded:

"The sky's the limit. That's my expectation."

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