Butler shines in all-star game

Three UT basketball signees participated in the Adidas EA Sports Superstar Games Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena but the only one who played well is the one least likely ever to wear Orange.

Jackie Butler, who already has declared for the NBA draft, produced 10 points and 8 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action in helping the KG Superstars hammer the T-Mac Superstars 149-127 in the men's game. Butler, a 6-10, 249-pound post player from McComb, Miss., sank 5 of 6 floor shots, dished out 3 assists and blocked 4 shots.  

''I played real well,'' Butler said. ''I was playing with good people, and we played the game like it's supposed to be played.''   

Butler said he is ''50-50'' about whether he'll be playing for UT or an NBA team next winter, adding that he will ''definitely'' work to remain eligible, in case he decides to postpone his pro career until 2005..   

Subsequent remarks, however, clearly indicated that his heart is not in the college game. Asked if he would have to project as a first-round pick to opt for the NBA over Tennessee, he ducked the question.   

''I don't know,'' he said. ''I'm just practicing -- working out every day, getting ready, lifting weights and working on my mid-range game, trying to get stronger. I know in The League (NBA) there ain't no babies allowed in there. You got to go in there and play ... be tough ... real tough.''    

Asked if he would be OK with attending college if that appears to be his best option, Butler grimaced for perhaps 15 seconds before finally responding.   

''Yeah,'' he finally said. ''If I have to come to college, I'll come to college.''   

Butler has a very mature frame for his age, and used it to good advantage Friday night against opponents who aren't as physically advanced.   

Damion Harris, another UT signee, wasn't quite so impressive -- finishing with 4 points and 1 rebound. Rugged but raw, the 6-9, 280-pounder from Greenville, S.C., made 1 of 6 field goal tries with three of his attempts blocked. He represented the losing T-Mac Superstars.   

Lady Vol signee Sybil Dosty (Tucson, Ariz.) had 4 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in the women's game. Clearly nervous, the 6-3 forward sank just 2 of 12 floor shots for the KG Superstars, who fell by a 100-95 margin.   

''I was pretty nervous, especially playing in front of this crowd for the first time,'' she said. ''But I'll get past that.''   

The MVP of the women's game was LSU signee Erica White, a super-quick 5-5 guard from Jacksonville, Fla. She scored just 6 points but dished out 9 assists and wowed the crowd with her ballhandling skills.   

Tri-MVPs of the men's game were Virginia signee Sean Singletary (Philadelphia), Duke signee DeMarcus Nelson (Sacramento, Calif.) and unsigned Dwight Howard (Atlanta). The 5-11 Singletary led all scorers with 24 points. He also grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. The 6-4 Nelson chipped in 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. The 6-10 Howard had a triple double -- 19 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.  

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