Tyler time in Tennessee

The Tennessee Basketball Vols don't see Iowa transfer Tyler Smith as an intruder destined to crack their lineup. They see him as the last piece of a puzzle that could help them crack the Final Four.

Senior JaJuan Smith, who could lose some of his minutes at small forward to Tyler Smith, is one of the new Vol's biggest fans. Asked what the Pulaski product adds to the lineup, JaJuan grinned broadly and replied, "What is he NOT going to add? That's the question.

"He's amazing. He can do it all. He can shoot outside, mid-range, dunk. He can make it hard on you on offense by making your shot difficult. He's just one of them guys that's special."

Sophomore point guard Ramar Smith is another player who has seen enough of Tyler Smith in pickup games to view the versatile Vol as a difference-maker.

"We're already uptempo, and he just brings more uptempo," Ramar Smith said. "He's versatile. He's a great player. He can do everything. He can play different positions. It's going to be wonderful."

Sophomore post Duke Crews also is impressed by Tyler Smith's ability to do many things well.

"The best thing is his versatility, all-around," Crews said. "He can put the ball on the floor, he can shoot the 17-foot jump shot, he can slash and get to the rim, he can rebound ... everything. He's just a good all-around player."

Most likely, Tyler Smith will plug the hole at power forward vacated by the graduation of 2006 starter Dane Bradshaw. At 6-7 and 225 pounds, Smith will give the Vols considerably more size than the 6-3, 205-pound Bradshaw did.

"He's going to be a nice complement to our team," senior guard Chris Lofton said. "He brings a lot of athleticism and power to the team."

Clearly, Tyler Smith is a good fit physically for Tennessee. The question is: Will his insertion into the starting lineup negatively affect the great team chemistry the Vols developed in 2006-07?

"Nah," JaJuan Smith said. "Home sweet home is right here in Rocky Top. I think he's going to fit right in. He's one of us. We're in this together, and I think he's right there with us."

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