Back and bombin'

One former Tennessee basketball star had scarcely returned from a trip to Memphis when he "went off" again ... figuratively speaking, at least.

Fresh from a tryout with the NBA's Grizzlies, ex-Vol Chris Lofton showed up for Monday night's session of the Rocky Top League at Knoxville's Bearden High Gym. If the hectic schedule bothered him, it didn't show. He drained 8 of 14 3-point shots en route to 49 points for Choice Spine in a 121-120 loss to HT Group.

Lofton, the second-most prolific 3-point shooter in college hoops history, didn't score during the first seven minutes of Monday night's game. Once he found his rhythm, however, his teammates found him with regularity.

Calling the Rocky Top League "my second home," Lofton added that hitting his first two 3-point shots "was great. I got good looks, and they went for me."

As one of the Vols' all-time greats, he is expected to star every time he takes the floor against the caliber of opposition he faces in the Rocky Top League. Still, he says he feels no pressure.

"Not really," he said. "This is just all fun and games. Everybody's just having fun playing basketball."

Because he is not particularly tall (6-1) or quick, Lofton was overlooked in the 2008 NBA Draft after finishing up a stellar Vol career. He has been trying to make a pro roster as a free agent ever since, with the tryout camp in Memphis being his most recent attempt.

"It went good," he said. "All we did, really, was play pickup games."

Lofton attended the Grizzlies' camp with former Vol backcourt mate JaJuan Smith. Having an ally on hand made the experience more enjoyable for both players.

"It was good having him as my roommate," Lofton said. "We talked about old times, and it was good to see him."

Speaking of "old times," Lofton reminded fans of his Volunteer days when he put Choice Spine on his back down the stretch Monday night. He scored 19 of his points in the game's final six minutes, including a fall-away 3 from the right corner that gave his team a 120-119 lead with 40.7 seconds left.

"My coach told me to take the ball and make plays, and that's what I tried to do," he said, grinning sheepishly before adding: "I got to do what the coaches say."


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