"That's my game," Kenny Hall said. "I'm physical, so there ain't no choice but for it to help me."
Hall showcased his physical nature in Monday night's RTSL action. First, though, he shocked the crowd at Bearden High Gym by nailing a 3-pointer in the opening minute. Then, with his First Tennessee Bank team and Ray's ESG tied 24-24 midway through the half, Hall simply took over the game.
He scored on a dunk to break the tie. Fouled hard on an aggressive drive to the basket, he made two free throws for a 30-27 lead. Moments later he hit back-to-back layups as the margin swelled to 36-29. Consecutive dunks widened the gap to 43-34 four minutes short of halftime.
Hall scored 12 of his team's 19 points during that six-minute span. Then, when Ray's closed to 50-47, he scored inside again - closing the half with 17 points. For the game he was 10 of 13 from the field, 1 of 1 from 3 and 4 of 7 from the foul line en route to a team-high 25 points. It was an impressive offensive display for a guy who averaged just 3.8 points per game as a Vol freshman last winter.
"I had things pretty much falling in my favor," he said after the game. "I was working hard, and if you work hard things fall in your favor."
Hall was an incredibly aggressive defensive player last season - fouling out twice and averaging one foul every 6.3 minutes. Surrounded by upperclassmen, however, he was a somewhat passive offensive player - averaging just 2.7 shot attempts per game. Now that he's more seasoned, he's looking to be more offensive-minded.
"The coaching staff and everybody put the thought in my head that I need to be more aggressive," he said. "Now that I've been here a year, that's making it easier."
Hall packed roughly 190 pounds on his spindly frame when he enrolled at Tennessee last summer. He added 15 pounds during the season and says he has put on another 20 since then. Still, he could carry another 20 pounds with ease.
"I'm taking care of my body - eating, working out, lifting weights and stuff," he said.
Like his Tennessee teammates, Hall is using the summer league to smooth some of the rough edges in his game.
"My man focus is my step-out jump shot and being stronger with the ball," he said. "I'm also working on my ball-handling and my face-up game. It's not just one thing; I'm working on everything."
The summer league boasts a few savvy veterans who are up to 15 years older than Hall. Naturally, he has learned a lot from going against them.
"With all the experience they've got, I'm having to learn to make different moves," he said. "I'm working a lot on my footwork. That might be the most important thing right there."