Trae's debut ain't Golden

Trae Golden won't soon forget his debut performance in the Rocky Top Summer Basketball League. God knows he'll try, though.

Rated a four-star recruit and the No. 22 shooting-guard prospect in America as a senior at McEachern High of Powder Springs, Ga., last winter, Golden struggled noticeably in his first outing before Knoxville fans. He sank just 5 of 13 shots en route to a 13-point performance as Ray's ESG suffered a 118-110 loss to the News-Sentinel Tuesday night at Knoxville's Bearden High Gym.

Because UT basketball players now are encouraged to undergo a "media-orientation program" before meeting the press, Golden was not available for post-game interviews. The 6-1, 170-pounder probably had little to say anyway. Doggedly determined to attack the rim, he lost the ball or had his shot blocked on several occasions. Clearly flustered, he even missed a breakaway dunk at one point.

"Being a freshman, you learn that it's a whole different game than the high-school level," said Ray's ESG teammate Josh Bone, who will be a Vol senior this season. "You do high-school things, thinking you can get away with it on the court."

Bone has played enough pickup games with Trae Golden in recent weeks, however, to believe the incoming freshman will bounce back quickly.

"He's got a nice game," Bone said. "He has a lot of potential but everybody has to grow. You have to learn, so it'll be a process for him, but it won't be a long process because he can play the game. He has a good IQ and he knows what to do with the ball.

"You get frustrated at first when you make mistakes but you figure out that you have to learn. He's going to have to learn but he's willing to learn, and that's what I like about Trae."

Golden never exhibited any frustration or anger while on the court. On the bench may have been another matter.

"Of course, he was down," Bone said. "Who wouldn't be down if they played bad? But he'll learn to deal with it. He'll show up next time and prove to people that he can really play at this level."

Based on pickup games, Bone believes Golden will be a combo guard, capable of playing both the point and shooting guard positions for the Vols.

"He can play the 1 and the 2," Bone said. "He's good handling the ball."

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