Meet Vols' Future Flyer

When Bruce Pearl gained a commitment from Jordan McRae to Tennessee's Class of 2010 he not only picked up a four-star prospect, he got a three-position player with five-star potential and CAT 4 intensity.

A whirling dervish on the hardwood, Jordan McRae is a match-up mystery for opposing coaches to unravel as he can shoot from the perimeter, drive to the hoop, post up guards and fly up and down the floor in transition.

As a sophomore McRae averaged 18 points, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and four steals per game to help lead Liberty County to a 23-5 record. In his first season as a starter McRae displayed an advanced game that has been augmented in extensive AAU play.

"He's played 2, 3 and some 4 for us," Liberty County High head coach Willie Graham said of McRae. "Our post players are 6-5 and he's 6-6. He's taller than most of our post players. Now he's not as wide and as bulky as they are, but match-up wise it creates problems for our opponents to match-up with a 6-6 who can play on the perimeter. So we go to more of a motion, more of a spread kind of set when we do move him down on the baseline. He's too big to cover with a guard and he can beat the heavier post players with his quickness." McRae can upgrade his game by filling out his 78-inch, 180-pound frame. He's hitting the weights with just that purpose in mind, while refining his game otherwise as well.

"He comes in the weight room every morning at seven o'clock, lifting hard, but he's got a long way to go because he's just starting," said Coach Graham. "He's got a frame where he can bulk up. He could carry another 25 pounds easily."

Graham said the 16 year-old can improve his half-court handle and patience, plus he's working to translate his full throttle offensive performance to a more high-intensity effort on defense.

"Other than his patience in the half court his defense is something we're working on, trying to get him as aggressive on defense as he is on the offensive end. He just backs off his defense a little bit. We play strictly man-to-man. We pick up full court and go at it. We do some zone pressing but our zone press is real aggressive and it's backed up to a half court man defense. Very seldom will you find us sitting back in a zone. We want all our defenders to be aggressive and right now he's not as aggressive as we want him to be. With his wingspan he should be a dynamic man-to-man full court player. His wingspan is about 7-foot or 7-1. He's long and lanky. We're hoping he's going to bulk up a little bit."

That experience at the high school level will be great preparation for Tennessee's attacking defense and scramble press. His wingspan makes McRae ideal for the trap and his ability to transition is strictly next level.

"He will fit good with Tennessee because of that wide open full court kind of attack.," said Coach Graham. "He's great in open court, he's just super great, he lifts well, he finishes well, he sees the court well and when you're running that's his game. We're trying to get him to improve his game when teams can make you slow down, make you have to run the half-court sets. He gets a little impatient at times. Mentally that's what we're trying to work on him.

That doesn't mean McRae isn't equally dangerous in the half court once he settles into a role.

"He can get his shot on the perimeter or drive to the basket, he's got all those kind of skills," said Graham. "Likewise on the perimeter where he can shoot over smaller guards or drive around bigger forwards. So he's hard to match up with, especially at the high school level."

When it comes to pure athleticism Jordan McRae needs no instruction just clearance for take off.

"We haven't measured his vertical," Graham said. "But one of my assistant coaches saw him the other day in the gym and he said they were in transition and a kid just threw it up and he said I thought it was going over the backboard. All of sudden Jordan was up there catching and spinning and dunking backwards. He gets off the floor well. In open court he is awesome."

What else would you expect from a 6-6 prospect named Jordan?

Inside Tennessee Top Stories