No ball for Hall

One University of Tennessee newcomer faced some sizable obstacles in his Rocky Top League debut Monday night.

He was a heralded prospect coming out of Redan High in Stone Mountain, Ga., so he was trying to meet some lofty expectations.

He was the only inside scoring threat for Ray's ESG, so he was a marked man whenever he touched the ball.

He was going against a loaded News-Sentinel team that features two current UT players and two former UT players.

He was battling 100-degree temperatures in cozy Bearden High Gym.

The most sizable obstacle facing Kenny Hall on Monday night, however, was 6-10, 270-pound Vol junior Brian Williams. Though known for his inconsistent effort, the big man was giving his all Monday night, and that made him a daunting challenge for the 6-9, 215-pound Hall.

"He's a real big ... uh, presence ... I'll say that," Hall said after being muscled and mauled by Williams for the better part of the evening. "He's the biggest guy I ever faced."

Williams generally used his superior heft and experience to keep Hall out of the paint and off the backboards. As a result, Williams outscored Hall 23 points to 11 and helped The News-Sentinel post a 130-123 victory.

So, how did Hall try to combat Williams' imposing size?

"I've got heart, so I'm not going to let him muscle me," the Vol signee said. "Everything he gets he's got to earn it."

Best suited to power forward, Hall felt he gave a reasonably good accounting of himself, even playing out of position in the post.

"I should've made a lot more of my shots but I played well," he said. "I could've gotten a lot more rebounds, too, but there's always room for improvement."

Because his reputation preceded him, Hall was signing autographs 90 minutes before his team took the floor Monday night. Naturally, he was flattered that so many fans – mostly children – approached him.

"It felt good," he said. "I'm doing it for them, so it felt good that they're recognizing me as a good player."

Because of his big-time reputation, however, Hall is expected to make a big-time impact on Tennessee's program. He concedes as much.

"I feel like I've got a lot to prove to these people," he said, nodding toward the stands. "I want to work hard, get better and perform real well – not only for my team but for Knoxville."

Although fans expect great things from him, Hall insists that he feels no pressure to meet those expectations.

"Nah," he said. "I never get nervous, especially in front of a big crowd. I like playing in front of a big crowd."

Rated a four-star recruit and America's No. 11 power forward prospect by last winter, Hall could've attended just about any college in America. He chose Tennessee for several reasons.

"All of the players hustle, and there's good chemistry," he said. "Cameron Tatum (Lithonia, Ga.) is from the area I'm from. They have a great coaching staff at UT, and I wanted to be close to my mom."

Because the Vols already have preseason All-American Tyler Smith at power forward, Hall's chances of getting major minutes this season appear slim. As a result, he may spend the 2009-10 season developing more so than contributing. He concedes that he's a work in progress.

"I need to be quicker on my feet," he said. "I need work on my handles and I need to keep working on my jump shot."

He needs to add about 20 pounds, as well, just in case he has to face any more 270-pound brutes in the Brian Williams mold.

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