Buzz assesses frosh class

With the 2002-2003 basketball season just past the mid-point, Vol head man Buzz Peterson thinks his freshman class is making solid progress.

C.J. Watson has been the star of the class to date. He has started every game at the point, averaging 9.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Incredibly, he's also averaging 36.5 minutes per game.

Stanley Asumnu is averaging 11.4 minutes and 3.0 points per game but has struggled with his jumpshot. He is hitting just 28.8 percent from the field, including 14.3 percent from 3-point range.

The same problem has hounded John Winchester, who is hitting 20.7 percent from the floor, including 19.0 percent from beyond the arc. He's averaging 1.5 points and 8.1 minutes per game.

Boomer Herndon, a 7-foot center who is very raw, averages 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per game while playing 2.4 minutes per contest.

''C.J. Watson, of course, has gone beyond (expectations),'' Peterson said. ''He's played more minutes than anybody in the SEC. He's having a tremendous year for us and has grown up a lot. Point guard is a key position, and he's having heck of a year.''

Although his ballhandling and shooting have been solid, Watson's stamina may be his greatest attribute.

''C.J. sometimes looks like he has a third lung,'' Peterson said. ''He just goes and goes.''

Winchester has tremendous potential but has not performed as well in games as his skill level dictates that he should.

''John Winchester, with more minutes, will do a better job for us,'' Peterson said. ''It's my fault for not giving him more minutes. That may be (the cause of) some of the breakdowns late; some guys have been so fatigued that maybe I've done a poor job of getting him in there, along with Stanley.

''John is a little more developed than Stanley on the defensive end but Stanley is a little bit better weapon offensively. The Georgia game he did a good job attacking in transition. They both gained some confidence out of the Ole Miss game. We probably need to give them a couple more minutes in the first half (of each game) and rest some other people. That can help C.J. some -- let Higgins go to the point some and let those guys come in and play on the wings.

''I had a good talk with Boomer yesterday (Monday), telling him to stay positive, be ready when you're called on and jump in there and do a good job.''

So, what's the key to Herndon's development?

''For us, as a staff, it's just to throw him in there, throw him in the fire in the first half and let him get some minutes,'' Peterson said. ''He told me he's a gamer. I told him that the biggest thing that will really help him is getting in the weight room.... He's got a nice shooting touch.''

Tennessee's other first-year player, juco transfer Justin Albrecht, is just rounding into form after missing 13 games with a stress fracture in his left leg. He could see some playing time Wednesday night against South Carolina.

''Justin gives us some perimeter shooting,'' Peterson said. ''When people go zone, he's somebody we can stick in there.... He can fill it up. The one thing he's got to get better is his speed in guarding people. We've got to be careful when he's on defense. He needs to work at that, and he knows it.''

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