Lofton to play pro ball in Spain

Former Tennessee basketball player Chris Lofton (2005-08) departed Friday afternoon for Spain, where he will join Caja Liboral, a team in the ACB (Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto), which is the country's premier professional basketball league and one of the top leagues in all of Europe.

A three-time All-America selection with the Vols, Lofton will sign a contract with Caja Liboral upon his arrival.

The 18-team ACB league features notable basketball standouts such as Ricky Rubio, Taquan Dean, Christian Eyenga and Gerald Fitch. Current NBA superstar Pau Gasol and former Stanford All-America Josh Childress also once played in the ACB.

"One step at a time," UT head coach Bruce Pearl said. "Chris excelled last year in Turkey, and now he's earned himself a spot in the top professional league in Europe. He's worked incredibly hard, and it's just a matter of time before he's playing in the NBA."

Lofton enjoyed a breakout season with Turkish professional team Mersin last season—scoring an incredible 61 points (17-of-22 from 3-point range) in a single game—before earning a spot on the Boston Celtics' NBA Summer League team.

A native of Maysville, Ky., Lofton is the Southeastern Conference's all-time 3-point king and ranks third in NCAA history with 431 career 3-pointers made. He helped lead Tennessee to back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances as well as the 2008 SEC Championship.

Lofton will join another former Pearl pupil now playing in the ACB, as Clay Tucker—who played for Pearl at UW-Milwaukee—is under contract with DKV Joventut. And Dan Grunfeld, who helped lead the Pearl-coached Maccabi USA Open Men's Basketball Team to gold at the 18th World Maccabiah Games this past summer, plays for the ACB's C.B. Valladolid.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories