Who'll play the point?

Tennessee's point guard picture has been muddled ever since four-year starter C.J. Watsn completed his eligibility in March, and it isn't getting any clearer. In fact, it may be more muddled than ever, considering some recent developments.

Spring signee Ramar Smith, considered by many the favorite to succeed Watson, has not been approved for admission by the NCAA Clearinghouse. A heralded 6-2 combo guard from Detroit, Smith had hoped to enroll at UT in time for the second session of summer school. There is still a chance he will be cleared in time to enroll in August and be immediately eligible for varsity competition.

Another member of the 2006 freshman class, November signee Josh Tabb, recently broke his wrist playing pick-up ball and will be sidelined for a couple of months. A 6-4 combo guard from Cincinnati, Tabb also figured prominently in the point competition. He still could be ready when preseason drills begin in October.

Senior Dane Bradshaw, who has expressed a desire to compete for the point-guard role after starting as a 6-foot-4 power forward in 2005-06, remains sidelined by the wrist surgery he underwent at the conclusion of last season.

Even with Smith, Tabb and Bradshaw unavailable, Tennessee has no shortage of point guard candidates. The contenders include 6-2 juniors Jordan Howell and JaJuan Smith, along with 6-6 November signee Marques Johnson.

Howell performed adequately as Watson's chief backup last season, averaging 7.6 minutes and 2.1 points per game. He shot 43.2 percent from the field and 42.9 from beyond the arc but may lack the explosiveness to run Bruce Pearl's uptempo transition attack.

Smith distinguished himself as the sixth man last winter, recording 39 steals and averaging 9.7 points per game. He is best suited to off guard but has the quickness and ball-handling skills to play the point, if needed.

Johnson played a wing position for his high school team in Indianapolis but played lead guard for his AAU team. He can handle the point offensively but may face match-up problems defending smaller, quicker rivals.


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