Lofton 'stars' with 41

The stock of Vol basketball signee Chris Lofton is on the rise.

Lofton, a 6-3 guard from Mason County High in Maysville, Ky., scored 41 points Saturday at Owensboro in leading Kentucky's All-Stars to an 89-81 victory over their Indiana counterparts.

Lofton nailed 13 of 25 floor shots, including 6 of 16 from beyond the 3-point arc. Oddly, he was a so-so 9 of 16 from the foul line.

In addition to his scoring exploits. Lofton speared six rebounds, handed out four assists and made four steals.

Lofton averaged 26.7 points per game as senior last winter and ended his high school career with 2,763 points. He scored 26 points in the state title game, a 66-56 loss to Warren Central, and was tabbed ''Mr. Basketball'' in his home state. Dissatisfied with the offers he got last November, he waited until the spring signing period of 2004, then picked the Vols over Cincinnati and Notre Dame.

With John Winchester leaving the program, Tennessee's backcourt brigade for 2004-05 will consist of Lofton, plus returnees C.J. Watson, Scooter McFadgon, Stanley Asumnu and Dane Bradshaw. Also on hand will be Jordan Howell, a redshirt freshman who missed 2003-04 with mononucleosis.

The Vol backcourt should be further bolstered by the addition of freshman walk-ons JuJuan Smith and Elliott DeVoe.

Smith, a 6-2 combo guard from McMinn County High School, averaged 21.8 points per game last season and reportedly turned down scholarship offers from East Tennessee State University, Virginia Commonwealth and Middle Tennessee State University.

DeVoe, a 6-5 wing guard from Annapolis (Md.) High School, is the son of former UT head basketball coach Don DeVoe.

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