Goins strong

Approximately 60 guys played in the Rocky Top Summer League Tuesday night, yet the one with the most difficult assignment was easy to select.

That would be Melvin Goins. He's the only one that was going head-to-head against an NBA player, three-year pro C.J. Watson of the Golden State Warriors.

Goins, a 5-10, 195-pounder who projects to be Tennessee's starting point guard as a senior in 2010-11, was giving away four inches of height and considerable experience against the 26-year-old Watson, who stands 6-2. Goins generally held his own, however, matching Watson's 17 points.

Facing an NBA player may be challenging but it's also beneficial.

"It was good," Goins said moments after guiding DeRoyal to a 115-104 defeat of Watson's Richardson Construction team. "I work out with him every day. The chance to play him in a real game-type situation is outstanding. I can learn from him just by guarding him and get better."

Both men are proud competitors, and their one-on-one battle got pretty intense at times. Each did some grabbing and shoving, along with some trash talking.

"Yeah, it got physical," Goins said, smiling at the recollection. "We got used to each other during the week, working out and all kind of things, so it was good competition."

Goins was late reporting to Tennessee from junior college last summer, causing him to miss the Rocky Top League. Tuesday was his first taste of the summer action, and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

"It's a cool league," he said. "I like the competition and the whole environment. I'm really excited to see a whole lot of people come out and support this."

Many of those people came out to see Tennessee's players up-close and personal. Goins gave them a pretty good show, making some nifty drives and once soaring high for a dunk ... no small feat for a 5-10 guy.

"Yeah, that's one of my strengths - taking the ball to the basket," he said. "I've got a lot of shooters on my team and I've got a big inside presence (6-10 UT teammate Brian Williams also plays for DeRoyal), so if I can get in the middle of the key that will open up things for everybody else. That's what I'm concentrating on."

Goins started four games in 2009-10 and looms as the heir-apparent for 2010-11 now that two-year starting point guard Bobby Maze is out of eligibility. The prospect of running the show excites him.

"It feels great," he said. "I'm in a leadership role and I feel comfortable with it. Going where we went last year (Elite Eight), I feel real confident and comfortable. I'm looking forward to working with Bruce Pearl and my team."

Goins, who hit 8 of 21 shots Tuesday night, is best known for his superior defensive work. That makes him something of an oddity in the Rocky Top League, where defense is basically a forgotten concept. Still, he works hard at his specialty.

"I just work on my individual defense and my help defense," he said. "I might not be as aggressive but I make sure I'm always in the right spots on the floor and always in a defensive stance. I'm preparing myself to be ready for the season."

Based on his solid showing against C.J. Watson, he looks pretty close to ready right now.

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