Rashard Lee update

Ex-Vol Rashard Lee and his First Tennessee Bank teammates hung 71 first-half points on The News-Sentinel Monday night in Rocky Top summer league action.

This is noteworthy when you consider that Tennessee scored 71 points in an ENTIRE GAME just four times during Lee's sophomore season of 1996-97. Defense-minded Kevin O'Neill was the Vols' head man back then, and his offensive system gave new meaning to the word "deliberate." As a result, Lee finds the high-scoring summer league a refreshing change of pace.

"It's competitive," he said after watching his team squander a 71-55 halftime lead and come out on the short end of a 132-129 score Monday night. "It's a lot of athleticism and a lot of fun. It kind of sucks when you lose, but it's a lot of fun."

Lee got his fill of losing while he was attending Tennessee. The Vols went 14-15 during his freshman season of 1995-96, then slumped to 11-16 in '96-97. O'Neill bolted at this point, but left behind enough talent for Jerry Green to post records of 20-9 and 21-9 in Lee's last two years with the program.

Although the Rocky Top League is entertaining, it is a notch or two below the level of competition Lee faced when he was toiling for the Vols.

"On offense, it's a lot more fun but the defense is worse," he said. "Nobody really wants to play defense in this league. I'm convinced that the team that plays the most defense is going to win every night. This league is kind of a showcase offensively."

He should know. Lee, who averaged just 6.0 points per game in college, pumped in 33 on Monday night. Naturally, the game is more enjoyable when you're making some baskets.

"It's a lot of fun," Lee said, "but it sucks a little for me to score points and not win. It doesn't mean anything (to score 33) because I'll go home tonight knowing we lost. I want to win; that's it pretty much."

Originally from Durham, N.C., Lee enjoyed his college days in Knoxville so much that he has settled in the city. He is proving to be a real asset to his community, helping children at middle schools and area hospitals develop their skills.

When he isn't working with youngsters, Lee is working on his own skills. He considers the Rocky Top League a godsend, since it enables him to stay in shape and continue playing the game he loves. Essentially, it keeps him young.

"It does," he said, flashing a big grin. "It's a lot of running, and it lets me know where I am at 32 when I run up against the young guys, especially the guys from UT."

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