McBee from Mc3

Asserting yourself is difficult when you're a freshman, especially if you're a walk-on. But it didn't stop one Tennessee basketball player Wednesday afternoon.

Skylar McBee drained 4 of 4 shots - all from 3-point range - and added 4 steals as the Vols held their final intrasquad scrimmage of the preseason. With the game divided into four 10-minute quarters, the 6-foot-2 walk-on from Rutledge hit one trey in the first period, one in the third and two in the fourth. There was nothing tentative about him. Whenever he got a good look, he didn't hesitate to unload.

"All of the guys expect me when I'm open to make the shot, and hopefully that's what I'm going to be able to do," he said. "With our team chemistry and everybody believing each other will make the shot, it's not that hard. You've just got to stand out there and you've got to do it."

McBee clearly has earned the respect of his veteran teammates. He believes this accomplishment was not confined to the gym, noting that it's a matter of "hanging out with the guys outside of basketball ... being a part of what they do in the locker room ... not only being a team on the floor but being friends off the court."

Modest by nature, McBee credited his teammates for Wednesday's perfect performance from beyond the arc.

"The reason I'm getting open shots is all these other guys doing what they do - driving to the basket and getting themselves open," he said. "The reason I get open is because of what all these other guys do."

Considered a defensive liability when he enrolled two months ago, McBee has worked diligently to improve in that area. Wednesday's 4 steals suggest as much. Countless hours spent with strength coach Troy Wills have made McBee tougher to outmuscle.

"Being strong really helps," McBee said. "And defense is a lot about want-to."

Naturally, Tennessee's head coach was pleased with the sharp-shooting freshman's performance at both ends of the floor.

"Skylar looked great," Bruce Pearl said. "Skylar made shots, and you don't notice him making mistakes defensively."

McBee projected to be a bench-warmer this season, since the Vols return four guys who started games on the wing last season - Scotty Hopson, J.P. Prince, Cameron Tatum and Renaldo Woolridge. Now he has played his way off of the bench, however.

"Skylar's putting himself in the rotation," Pearl said. "He plays hard, and that affects a lot of different guys. That's wonderful to see. It's a real fit, and I'm happy for him.

"He will play. How much? I don't know but he's putting himself in the rotation."


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