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
(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.
(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.