SEC Hoops Preview 2003-04: Tennessee

In Part XI of a series of SEC men's basketball previews, VeeMan takes a look at Buzz Peterson's Tennessee Volunteers.

SEC BASKETBALL 2003-04 PREVIEW The Tennessee Volunteers

Returning Players

NAMECLASS MIN PPG %FG %3P %FT REB AST
C.J. Watson Soph 1038 9.1 42.6 36.4 65.3 122 160
Brandon Crump Sr 780 11.0 56.4 ---- 75.3 171 32
Stanley Asumnu Soph 344 2.9 31.5 20.0 58.1 48 22
Derek Stribling Jr 265 2.8 46.7 ---- 34.6 42 16
John Winchester Soph 200 1.5 22.9 23.3 80.0 20 15
Boomer Herndon Soph 38 1.3 33.3 ---- 57.1 11 1

Players Lost

NAME MIN PPG %FG %3P %FT REB AST
Ron Slay 992 21.2 48.7 37.7 78.2 226 61
Jon Higgins 899 8.9 43.8 41.1 75.0 84 78
Thaydeus Holden 730 8.5 39.5 40.3 82.8 73 44
Elgrace Wilborn 493 2.9 58.7 ---- 34.6 136 17

New Players (rankings from PrepStars)

Dane Bradshaw 6-3 Freshman #92 ranked

Jamere Hendrix 6-8 Soph Transfer from Clemson

Jordan Howell 6-3 Freshman Unranked

Scooter McFadgon 6-5 Soph Transfer from Memphis

Major Wingate 6-10 Freshman #44 ranked

Lou Wright 6-6 Jr Transfer from Southwest Tennessee CC

Strengths

(1) Playmaking. 6-1 C.J. Watson was an outstanding point guard as a freshman, and will be a candidate for all-conference honors. He is also a fine shooter and rebounder.

(2) Outside shooting. Last year Watson established himself as a reliable three-point shooter. Three newcomers are good at making the long ones, namely Scooter McFadgon (who averaged 10 ppg as a freshman at Memphis), Dane Bradshaw, and Jordan Howell. The other wing players, 6-4 Stanley Asumnu, 6-3 John Winchester, and 6-6 Derek Stribling, have not yet shown much ability to connect from outside.

(3) Brandon Crump. Crump is 6-10, 235 lbs, and will capably handle the high post. Freshman Major Wingate, 6-10, 245 lbs, should start at the low post.

Question Marks.

(1) Who will help Crump and Wingate on the inside? Junior Elgrace Wilborn, an excellent shotblocker and rebounder, was supposed to be available for this duty, but was dismissed from the team in June after breaking Crump's jaw in a fracas. That leaves just untested 7-0 Boomer Herndon, Jamere Hendrix, and Lou Wright to help. Herndon has the weight (240 lbs), and Hendrix weighs 215 lbs, but Wright is slender.

(2) Who will help Watson at the point? Granted, he doesn't usually need much help, but what if he gets hurt? Bradshaw, who is a "combo" guard, would have to take over.

(3) Who will replace Ron Slay? He was the SEC Player of the Year, and led the team in scoring (by a great margin) and rebounding. Evidently some combination of newcomers will have to make up for his loss.

Overall Prospects for 2003-04 Coach Buzz Peterson did a good job of coaching the Vols to a 17-12 record last year (9-7 in conference play), although his team had little depth. (The loss of starter Jon Higgins on academics probably influenced the NCAA Selection Committee to choose Auburn for the "Big Dance" over Tennessee.) This year Peterson will probably start two freshmen (Wingate and either Howell or Bradshaw), along with Watson, Crump, and McFadgon. On paper, it looks like a fifth place finish for the Vols in the Eastern Division, but there is a definite chance that they could get things together and finish one or two notches higher and either go back to the NIT again or edge into the NCAA tournament.


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