The book of Matthew

He always dreamed of playing for the Tennessee Vols at Thompson-Boling Arena. Saturday at 3 he'll do the next-best thing: He'll play AGAINST the Vols at TBA.

As Big Orange fans no doubt recall, Matthew Dotson was a senior at Centerville's Hickman County High School when he signed with former Vol head man Buzz Peterson in November of 2004. When Peterson was canned the following March, Dotson was understandably disappointed but still eager to play for the new UT coach.

Weeks later Dotson's bags were packed for the cross-state trek to Knoxville when he got a fateful call from Bruce Pearl, Peterson's successor. The new coach said he would honor Dotson's scholarship but could not promise the in-state prospect playing time in the Vols' new up-tempo system.

Heartbroken, the 6-8, 220-pounder unpacked his bags and signed instead with Belmont, where he has enjoyed a solid career. He averaged 11.4 points per game as a junior in 2007-08, finishing second among Atlantic Sun players in 3-point percentage (41.4) and making the league's All-Tournament team.

This year Dotson is playing even better, averaging 12.6 points per game and shooting 50 percent (20 of 40) from beyond the arc. He drained five of nine 3-point shots and scored a career-high 21 points in just 14 minutes vs. Tennessee State. He had 16 points vs. Pittsburgh, 15 vs. Middle Tennessee and 14 vs. Jacksonville.

Although things have worked out well for Dotson at Belmont, it's a safe bet that he's had Saturday circled on his calendar for a long, long time. A great game at Thompson-Boling won't prove he would've flourished as a Vol but it might apply a little salve to a wound suffered nearly four years ago.


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