Vol fans can only hope Ramar will produce the way Rajon did. Rondo led the 2005-06 Wildcats in minutes (31 per game), points (11.2 per game), rebounds (6.1 per game), assists (167) and steals (69), helping the Big Blue notch a 22-win season and an NCAA Tournament bid.
Critics say Rondo is not a great shooter, and they're right. Dribble drives enabled him to shoot 48.2 percentage from the floor last winter. He sank a mere 27.3 percent from 3-point range and a mediocre 57.1 percent from the foul line.
Preliminary reports suggest Ramar Smith's perimeter game needs work, too. Big deal. I've been watching Tennessee play basketball for 40 years, and I don't remember seeing a perfect point guard during that time. Billy Hann (1965-68) wasn't much of a scorer. Rodney Woods (1972-75) was talented but undersized. So were successors Johnny Darden (1975-78) and Tyrone Beaman (1981-83). Tony White (1985-87) was a fantastic offensive weapon but not a true point guard. Clarence Swearengen (1987-89) was a superior ball-handler but a terrible shooter. Allan Houston (1989-93) was a scoring machine who played the point because no one else could. Shane Williams (1994-96) was a solid playmaker with limited offensive abilities. Tony Harris (1997-2001) was always more of a scorer than a distributor. C.J. Watson (2003-06) had a variety of skills but was never a great penetrator.
Ramar Smith may never be a great outside shooter but that's OK. Rondo never had a magical stroke, yet he was one of the SEC's premier players during his Kentucky career. He was so effective, in fact, that he recently announced he is bypassing his remaining collegiate eligibility to make himself eligible for the NBA Draft. UK coach Tubby Smith noted the loss by saying; "I don't think I've ever coached a better athlete or a more talented basketball player in my whole life."
Ramar Smith sounds a lot like Rajon Rondo in terms of his skill set and his playing style. Tennessee fans can only hope the similarities don't end there.