Best of the decade: PGs

Interestingly enough, four of Tennessee's top five point guards of the decade 2000-09 were shooting guards/combo guards in high school who developed into lead guards later in their careers.

Not surprisingly, the one guy who played point guard in high school - C.J. Watson - proved to be the best at filling that role for the Vols.

That said, here's a look at my Best of the Decade point guard ratings:

1. C.J. Watson: Tennessee hit the jackpot with this Las Vegas product. A four-year starter, the 6-2, 170-pounder averaged 9.1 points per game in 2003, 11.5 in 2004, 11.9 in 2005 and 15.3 in 2006. His career averages show 12.0 points and 34.1 minutes per game. The "Quiet Storm" wasn't the type of vocal leader you'd prefer in a point guard but he set a great example with his teamwork and dedication. An excellent shooter, Watson hit 43.2 percent from the field, 39.6 percent on 417 attempts from 3 and 77.7 percent from the foul line. He posted 577 career assists vs. 317 turnovers and excelled as a defender, posting 198 career steals. After bouncing around in lesser leagues for a few years, he now plays for the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

2. Bobby Maze: Though more comfortable as a shooting guard, this 6-2, 185-pounder came to Tennessee from junior college and developed into a very competent point guard. A starter in 64 of his 71 games on The Hill, he averaged 8.2 points in 2009 and 9.4 in 2010. He guided the Vols to records of 21-13 and 28-9, helping lead the 2010 team to the NCAA Elite Eight. Maze's career numbers include 8.8 points and 25.0 minutes per game. He shot 41.3 percent from the field, 28.3 percent on 198 attempts from 3 and 77.1 percent from the free-throw line. Underrated as a ball-handler, he posted more than twice as many assists (227) as turnovers (106) and also contributed 62 steals.

3. Tony Harris: Few Tennessee players have fueled so many rabid supporters and vocal detractors as this flashy 6-0, 165-pound Memphian. Thanks to a shooter's mentality, he was capable of putting up 30 points on a given night. When his shot wasn't falling, however, he tended to press and keep firing, leading some to label him a ball hog. Harris started 119 of 121 games at UT and put up some good numbers - 14.2 points per game in '98, 12.4 in '99, 14.6 in 2000 and 11.4 in 2001. For his career he averaged 13.1 points and 30.5 minutes per game. Although he shot just 37.8 percent from the field, he hit 36.1 percent of his 665 attempts from 3 and 75.6 percent from the foul line. He posted a so-so ratio of assists (509) to turnovers (352) but here's the key: UT went 12 years without a 20-win season prior to his arrival and four years without a 20-win season after his departure. The four years Harris ran the show, however, the Vols won 20 games and made the NCAA Tournament each season.

4. Ramar Smith: Another converted shooting guard, Smith was a much better scorer than distributor early in his career. The 6-2, 185-pounder averaged 10.7 points per game as a freshman in 2007 and 7.4 points as a sophomore in '08 before leaving the team after a series of run-ins with Bruce Pearl. Almost unstoppable on the dribble-drive, Smith could've been a tremendous weapon if he'd developed a consistent shooting stroke. He shot 43.7 percent from the field, 28.8 on 80 attempts from 3 and a mere 62.7 percent from the foul line. A starter in 45 of 71 games, his career numbers include 9.1 points and 24.2 minutes per game, with 226 assists versus 164 turnovers. A fine defender, he recorded 80 steals during his two seasons with the Vols.

5. Jordan Howell: Yet another converted shooting guard, he spent the final weeks of his Vol career as a spot player due to a horrendous shooting slump. Still, this 6-3, 190-pounder made some key contributions during his time on The Hill. He started six games at the point as a junior in 2007 and 17 as a senior in '08. Howell averaged 1.1 points as a freshman, 1.9 as a sophomore, 3.9 as a junior and 4.3 as a senior. He shot a chilly 33.8 percent from the field for his career, but made 33.1 percent of his 263 attempts from 3 and 67.2 percent from the foul line. Starting 23 of 111 career games, he posted an excellent ratio of assists (144) to turnovers (70).

NOT ELIGIBLE: Melvin Goins. This 5-11, 195-pound juco transfer played just 12 games for UT in the 2000-2009 time frame, so he will be eligible if I do a Best of the Decade list for 2010-2019. Goins averaged 5.3 points and 16.0 minutes per game last season, shooting 38.7 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from 3 and 63.5 percent from the free-throw line. He started 4 of 31 games and posted 57 assists versus 35 turnovers. He projects to start for the Vols in 2010-11.

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