Skylar McBee shooting into UT rotation

“McBee for Three!”

It’s becoming a more common phrase heard in Thompson-Boling Arena as the season progresses, and the Tennessee men’s basketball fans love it.

UT freshman walk-on Skylar McBee connected on all three of his 3-point attempts in the 11th-ranked Vols’ 78-66 victory Wednesday night over East Tennessee State.

Each of McBee’s 3-pointers seemed to draw a larger response from the crowd.

“Oh, yes sir, you could feel the energy,’’ said McBee, a former standout at Grainger High School. “My mom and dad say there are people back home asking about me all the time, too.’’

And why not?

UT coach Bruce Pearl said McBee has “carved” 15 minutes out of the rotation for himself with hard work, hustle and marksman-like shooting.

“His shooting was key for us tonight,’’ Pearl said. “I thought it was huge that Skylar took those shots with great confidence.’’

McBee confided that his father once told him that if a coach wants you to stop shooting he’ll take you out of the game.

That advice came in handy after McBee started the regular season with an 0-for4 shooting performance beyond the arc against Austin Peay and followed up with a 1-for-4 effort in the next game against UNC Asheville.

“When you’ve missed a couple of shots you have to keep your confidence level up,’’ McBee said. “You have to believe the next one is going in.’’

McBee is 8 of 13 shooting the 3-pointer over the past five games for the Vols (6-1).

His 3-pointers against ETSU were clutch, too. The Buccaneers were trying to make a run when McBee starting hitting from the outside.

“They were keeping it close,’’ McBee said, “and it seemed like they had an answer for everything that was happening.’’

McBee grew up wanting to play for Tennessee, but the Vols didn’t offer him a basketball scholarship. His answer was to eschew scholarship offers from Santa Clara, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State and ETSU and walk-on with the Vols with hopes of later being awarded a scholarship.

Pearl has indicated that is quite likely.

“Skylar is a kid who has surpassed expectations, and I think he’ll get even better,’’ UT associate head coach Tony Jones said. “He’s going to help us win games this season.’’

McBee said it’s a matter of adjusting.

“In high school you play 30 or so games, but it’s not as intense, and you’re not traveling as much or having as much to do in school,’’ he said. “You have to learn to manage your time and get your rest.’’

McBee said he paid close attention to the routine employed by former UT All-American Chris Lofton last summer.

“I just tried to watch Chris every day I could when he was back here for the summer,’’ McBee said. “Just seeing how things were supposed to be done on the court on a day-in and day-out basis.’’

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 48

CT_VOL writes:

McBee for Three!

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

Lord know's we need SOMEONE that can consistently hit 3s. Our shooting is what's gonna kill us this year.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

Well, that, and Tyler Smith driving the lane 1 on 5 and then jumping into the air before deciding, "Oh s**t, I guess I need to pass it off or throw up a wild-hair shot, or turn it over."

cdldoc#211897 writes:

McBee for three!

UTByrd writes:

I feel as if Skylar is already a team leader. Talk about the desire to play. Not only did he pass up free rides elsewhere, he walked onto the team and worked his butt off and proved to everyone what can be achieved thru hard work and desire.
His value goes way beyond making 3's.
Go VOLS!!!!!

PoochPuntOn3rdDown writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Shut it baldie!

jawbreaker writes:

Smart kid!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Right on!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Other than one really bad game that we won by 20 anyhow we've played very well early in the season...especially against Purdue (an outstanding top 5 team). I'm not sure we're top ten yet but who really is?

FeelVol writes:

McBee is one of these new recruits I just love,great shooter,not afraid to work his butt off of course thats understandable considering where he's from.Reminds me alittle of Negedu,may not be the most talented or gifted basketball player but what he does he does well and seems to play with a lot of heart,speaking of which I sure do miss him on the court.Kenny Hall seems to be another one in that type of mold.,doesn't seem to mind giving up his body to get after a loose ball.Yes I realize you need atheletes on every team but of course I'm talking about desire and heart here something that maybe a few of our guys should recognize.

rockytopatl writes:

Skylar McBee of Tennessee!

richvol writes:

You will see this kid in the starting five before he graduates.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

People want to overlook the fact that Skylar has an abysmal shooting percentage. I strongly feel the reaction he gets from the crowd is unwarranted. Furthermore, why can't the fans get as loud for anyone else who hits a 3? Sure, he's from in-state and defying odds by being a walk-on in the rotation, but the fans are discriminating him from the rest of the team VERY badly and I feel that's BS.

However, his shot is looking better, and he's been hitting more as of late. I will gladly eat my words when he starts shooting consistently and gets more intense on defense. Until then, I must insist that fans at the games should cheer loud for ANY player who makes a 3.

CleverUserNameVol writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

Lord know's we need SOMEONE that can consistently hit 3s. Our shooting is what's gonna kill us this year.

Ok, dude, there's enough jerks on this board and I'm going to try really hard not to be one of them. I'm sort of confused on your take on the team. Maybe you don't realize it, but other than Maze and Goins, every other perimeter player on the team is shooting around 50% from beyond the arc. Which is a HUGE improvement from last year. Hopson needs to man-up and grow some "stones" so he can hit that shot with a hand in his face, but when he's wide open, he's dead on target. Tatum is playing more relaxed and he's hitting his 3's way better than he was last year. The team has a long way to go to live up to the potential they have based on talent level, but they have definitely shown a major improvement over last year, especially in outside shooting. I understand that you're a UT fan and aren't happy with ANYTHING EVER, but give a little credit where a little credit is due. The game the other night wasn't their best effort, for sure, but they showed something I haven't seen out of this group so far and that was some patience on offense in order to get a good shot. As far as Tyler getting in the lane and not having any kind of plan; that still happens to him sometimes, but I've noticed him being a little more relaxed and patient with those type of things and I can remember one particular play Wednesday night when he drove into traffic and made a pretty-darned sweet pass to Williams who scored an easy lay-up. This team is better...and I have faith that they will continue to do so. I get accused of being a "kool-aid drinking moron" quite a bit, but I know basketball...I know how the game is played and I see the things that work and the things that don't. People like you on the board drink your own brand of kool-aid and it's the "black death" flavor. Loosen your panties a little and sit and actually see the things that are going on in an objective way, maybe you'll see what I'm talking about. Again, I'm not trying to be a jerk and pick a fight with anybody, but check the stats and facts and just let the season unfold. It's a game after all, and whether they're Seniors or Freshmen, they're still kids and they're learning. This can shape up to be a good season and I think they're heading in the right direction. Just some constructive input for you.

CleverUserNameVol writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

People want to overlook the fact that Skylar has an abysmal shooting percentage. I strongly feel the reaction he gets from the crowd is unwarranted. Furthermore, why can't the fans get as loud for anyone else who hits a 3? Sure, he's from in-state and defying odds by being a walk-on in the rotation, but the fans are discriminating him from the rest of the team VERY badly and I feel that's BS.

However, his shot is looking better, and he's been hitting more as of late. I will gladly eat my words when he starts shooting consistently and gets more intense on defense. Until then, I must insist that fans at the games should cheer loud for ANY player who makes a 3.

He did go cold there for a few games, I think we can chalk that one up to nerves and confidence. As to why the crowd cheers louder for him than anybody else; The crowd (particularly the student section) always picks an "under-dog" to cheer for every year. Anybody remember Pee-Wee Gash? We could be up by 10 with 8 minutes left in the second half and people would be chanting for Pee-Wee to go in. Like Pearl said, Skylar's scrappy and he works hard...he will get better.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

People want to overlook the fact that Skylar has an abysmal shooting percentage. I strongly feel the reaction he gets from the crowd is unwarranted. Furthermore, why can't the fans get as loud for anyone else who hits a 3? Sure, he's from in-state and defying odds by being a walk-on in the rotation, but the fans are discriminating him from the rest of the team VERY badly and I feel that's BS.

However, his shot is looking better, and he's been hitting more as of late. I will gladly eat my words when he starts shooting consistently and gets more intense on defense. Until then, I must insist that fans at the games should cheer loud for ANY player who makes a 3.

Correction, after these past couple games, his shooting percentage is not abysmal. I was really speaking of all the wide open 3s he missed earlier in the season.
Like I said, I can definitely see the improvement, but it's not Skylar I'm upset about, it's the fans. Because UT has never really been a "basketball school" we have very bad crowd participation at the games. People don't want to cheer when we need it the most, like when the opposing team is making a run, you can hear a pin drop when we're on defense. THIS ISN'T RIGHT!! I wish the basketball fans would take note of Kansas, UConn, UK games, etc. to see how we're REALLY supposed to cheer.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to CleverUserNameVol:

He did go cold there for a few games, I think we can chalk that one up to nerves and confidence. As to why the crowd cheers louder for him than anybody else; The crowd (particularly the student section) always picks an "under-dog" to cheer for every year. Anybody remember Pee-Wee Gash? We could be up by 10 with 8 minutes left in the second half and people would be chanting for Pee-Wee to go in. Like Pearl said, Skylar's scrappy and he works hard...he will get better.

You're right. I should have looked at his stats before I posted that comment. He's actually above .400 in 3s and FGs. That's definitely what I like to see, and judging by his work ethic, I'm sure he will win me over by the time we get to SEC play. I just can't stress enough how much I want all the fans to cheer loud for all the players, and when we need it on defense.

finn writes:

Nice story. You've always got to cheer for the small town guy that walks on, busts his butt, and contributes. Keep it up, Skylar.

volsunited writes:

i agree our crowds are abysmal when compared to the elite teams in college basketball!

volsunited writes:

But i will cheer for skylar as long as he is here due to his work ethic and being a hometown kid the same way i am always rooting for my fellow fulton high alum dennis rogan

johnlg00 writes:

Aside from his outside shooting, Skylar has shown a sound floor game and a willingness to mix it up that more than compensate for his inexperience. His defense has been better than I expected. He is far from a lock-down defender, but I have never seen him standing around as if he can't find anyone to guard, as is sometimes the case with some of the so-called veterans. As for his mini-slump shooting the ball, it seemed that all his shots were dead on line, just a little long or short. As long as a guy isn't missing right or left, that means his form and release are consistent and the shots WILL fall when he goes up straight. For me, Chris Lofton will always be the gold standard for outside shooters, but Skylar shows every sign of being as good at it as anyone ELSE we have ever had.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agreed. Top priority for this year's team is to improve greatly on defense, especially on the perimeter, where we were frequently torched last season.

However, we were obviously missing an outside shooting threat last year, and that hurt our offensive production. McBee's addition is important for offensive improvement.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Aside from his outside shooting, Skylar has shown a sound floor game and a willingness to mix it up that more than compensate for his inexperience. His defense has been better than I expected. He is far from a lock-down defender, but I have never seen him standing around as if he can't find anyone to guard, as is sometimes the case with some of the so-called veterans. As for his mini-slump shooting the ball, it seemed that all his shots were dead on line, just a little long or short. As long as a guy isn't missing right or left, that means his form and release are consistent and the shots WILL fall when he goes up straight. For me, Chris Lofton will always be the gold standard for outside shooters, but Skylar shows every sign of being as good at it as anyone ELSE we have ever had.

There willi never be another Dale Ellis...but Lofton is a close second. I loved to see Lofton and Smith play off each other.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Every announcer needs that "go to statement" Doc.

Joe Dean: "String music"
John Ward: "Give him six"

Don't think Bert's gonna stop so you may need to keep a bullet or piece of leather nearby to bite.

Skullz_VOL writes:

Skylar McThree

roobomb writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

People want to overlook the fact that Skylar has an abysmal shooting percentage. I strongly feel the reaction he gets from the crowd is unwarranted. Furthermore, why can't the fans get as loud for anyone else who hits a 3? Sure, he's from in-state and defying odds by being a walk-on in the rotation, but the fans are discriminating him from the rest of the team VERY badly and I feel that's BS.

However, his shot is looking better, and he's been hitting more as of late. I will gladly eat my words when he starts shooting consistently and gets more intense on defense. Until then, I must insist that fans at the games should cheer loud for ANY player who makes a 3.

For the season McBee is 9-21 from 3, or 43%, and that's including his 1-8 start. Every freaking coach in the country would love to have someone consistently hit that percentage from 3.

eefor10c writes:

Chris4vols, I don't know what your definition for abysmal but here are the facts. In the first two games Skylar was 1 for 8 in three pointers. In the last five games he has been 8 for 13. I think it is understandable for a walk-on to go 1 for 8 in the first two games. For the last five games the percentage is 61.5 and for alL games (including the 1-8) his percentage is 42.8%. I moved to Grainger County five years ago and I have seen Skylar play in the eighth grade through high school. NO ONE will outwork him. His dad has coached for many years and Skylar knows the game inside out and always wanted to be a Vol. Longvol, did you watch the last game. He had cut his hair. Now what will you criticize?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

There willi never be another Dale Ellis...but Lofton is a close second. I loved to see Lofton and Smith play off each other.

Ellis didn't become known as an outstanding outside shooter until he got to the pros. He hardly took a shot outside of fifteen feet at UT. I don't think this was because he couldn't hit them, it was just that there was no 3-pt shot in college basketball when he played and he was by far UT's most proficient post scorer. I agree that he had a beautiful release, even in college, but it was his timing and footwork in the post that impressed me most.

Lofton is still the best I've ever seen AT UT from long-range, although Mike Edwards from the Mears era was a close second. If he stays healthy and gets enough shots, McBee could be in that conversation by the time he is through here.

mytrifecta writes:

Great story. This team needs this kid in order to gel. He brings back images of Dane...hard-nosed, disciplined, scrappy.

Ironcity writes:

in response to PETE_BELL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What a turd you are. When does someone who claims to be an old timer have time to watch them practice? You don't even know the rules of the game so why comment on it. By the way the article was on Mcbee not Pearl moron.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Ellis didn't become known as an outstanding outside shooter until he got to the pros. He hardly took a shot outside of fifteen feet at UT. I don't think this was because he couldn't hit them, it was just that there was no 3-pt shot in college basketball when he played and he was by far UT's most proficient post scorer. I agree that he had a beautiful release, even in college, but it was his timing and footwork in the post that impressed me most.

Lofton is still the best I've ever seen AT UT from long-range, although Mike Edwards from the Mears era was a close second. If he stays healthy and gets enough shots, McBee could be in that conversation by the time he is through here.

Of course everything you said is true I just can't leave Ellis out when talin all time best...
The Lofton and Smith duo was great and Lofton's 3 couldn't be stopped. Lofton's Junior year was UT's best ever team easily. But Dale is my alltime favorite player even though I watched his college years less than his pro (favorite out of UT). I wasn't making

I'm sorry John I wasn't trying to argue and make Ellis a better 3 point college shooter. I just liked watching him back then. Lofton's junior team was the best ever...I think everyone would agree.

10ballvol writes:

Give Skylar time. I played against him in highschool ball and he was a coach on the floor. Very smart player with the ability to shoot his way back into a game. It was jus 2-a ball but still 1 2 or 3-a ball, u cant deny shooting ability. wait until he gets comfortable

SS23 writes:

If Hopson goes pro Skylar will start next year.

CleverUserNameVol writes:

in response to PETE_BELL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ok, "Pete", your little rant about Pearl and the mention of "probation" gave you away. You are AVOICEOFREASON. GET OFF THE F***KING BOARD! You were shamed into hiding over the Tobias Harris deal, which I laughed my @$$ off about. And you promised that if you were wrong about it(which you soooooooooo were) that you would leave and never come back. Your opinion is not welcome, is completely off base, and you've proven with the whole Tobias Harris deal that you truly have no idea what you're talking about. I understand that you enjoy making people mad. That's really sad and is obviously just overcompensation for self-loathing and other physical "inadequacies". I know you're going to deny that you are, indeed, AVOICEOFREASON, but we don't care. We know the truth, we despise every fiber of your being, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the few days that you were gone, sobbing in the corner of your trailer because you were so very wrong.

SS23 writes:

If Hopson goes pro Skylar starts next year.

MBEACHVOL writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Speaking of Lofton does anyone know where he is playing? I know he was with Caja Laboral in Euroleague but they do not list him on the roster now.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Does Bert speak Spanish?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SS23:

If Hopson goes pro Skylar starts next year.

I like Skylar a lot, but Cameron Tatum might have something to say about who starts at shooting guard after Hopson. BTW, unless Scotty catches fire against Kansas and Memphis and in conference play, he will be back to defend his position. He's not nearly NBA-ready right now.

rab writes:

I love Skylar, people like him are the reason I Love college sports. But I will give the team credit, they show some respect by including Tyler (the walk on) in the game. The reason he gets the chance to shot is somebody gets him the ball. A 6-3, 190 pound freshman with the heart of Tyler is a good reason to buy a ticket and make some noisy. Sit back and enjoy this young man for the next 3 years.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Of course everything you said is true I just can't leave Ellis out when talin all time best...
The Lofton and Smith duo was great and Lofton's 3 couldn't be stopped. Lofton's Junior year was UT's best ever team easily. But Dale is my alltime favorite player even though I watched his college years less than his pro (favorite out of UT). I wasn't making

I'm sorry John I wasn't trying to argue and make Ellis a better 3 point college shooter. I just liked watching him back then. Lofton's junior team was the best ever...I think everyone would agree.

I said a few weeks ago that Ellis was one of my all-time favorite Vols, even going so far as to say that he was, IMHO, the most COMPLETE player ever to play at UT. King was a better rebounder, several guys were better outside shooters IN COLLEGE--Edwards, Houston, Lofton, maybe a couple of others--but Ellis was the most EFFICIENT interior scorer, a strong rebounder despite giving up size and weight to most opponents, and a lock-down defender at any position.

I surely agree that Lofton's junior team was as good as any UT team ever fielded. I wish Tyler and Wayne were more like Ellis and I surely hope McBee can be in the discussion of great outside shooters before he is through.

carlsusanellis#574472 writes:

in response to compact2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen! to all you said, this team will get better when the rotation is trimmed down to 8 or 9 players.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Of course, discussions like this can go on forever. I have followed UT basketball since several years before I was a freshman walk-on in the 1964-5 season, so OF COURSE I saw Bernard King, and I have surely never seen anyone like him in a UT uniform. What I said about Ellis is that I regard him as the MOST COMPLETE UT player ever. That is because, as great as Bernard was, he never had nearly the defensive responsibilities Ellis had. In fact, NO ONE who was as good a scorer as Ellis was ALSO unquestionably the team's best man-to-man defender. Ellis guarded every position on the floor except point guard and nearly always held his man under his average while ALSO usually leading the Vols in scoring.

When King played, UT was almost exclusively a zone team, Mears' famous 1-3-1; Ellis played under Don Devoe who I am not sure could SPELL zone. In fact, Ellis is not further up the career scoring charts than he is because DeVoe didn't let him play that much as a sophomore because DeVoe didn't think at the time that Ellis was a good enough defender. It was only after he dedicated himself to defense that he became a regular, go-to player. With King, Mears wanted him on the floor at all times for offense and didn't really WANT King to play hard defense if it would either tire him out for offense or get him in foul trouble. If I had to choose between King and Ellis as my first "draft choice" to stock my team...well, I'm not sure who I would pick. If anyone wants to argue that King was the most explosive, dynamic, unstoppable, etc., etc., I wouldn't argue with that. However, in view of the fact that Ellis was as great on defense as he was on offense, I stand by my statement that he was the MOST COMPLETE player in UT history.

Ironcity writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Of course, discussions like this can go on forever. I have followed UT basketball since several years before I was a freshman walk-on in the 1964-5 season, so OF COURSE I saw Bernard King, and I have surely never seen anyone like him in a UT uniform. What I said about Ellis is that I regard him as the MOST COMPLETE UT player ever. That is because, as great as Bernard was, he never had nearly the defensive responsibilities Ellis had. In fact, NO ONE who was as good a scorer as Ellis was ALSO unquestionably the team's best man-to-man defender. Ellis guarded every position on the floor except point guard and nearly always held his man under his average while ALSO usually leading the Vols in scoring.

When King played, UT was almost exclusively a zone team, Mears' famous 1-3-1; Ellis played under Don Devoe who I am not sure could SPELL zone. In fact, Ellis is not further up the career scoring charts than he is because DeVoe didn't let him play that much as a sophomore because DeVoe didn't think at the time that Ellis was a good enough defender. It was only after he dedicated himself to defense that he became a regular, go-to player. With King, Mears wanted him on the floor at all times for offense and didn't really WANT King to play hard defense if it would either tire him out for offense or get him in foul trouble. If I had to choose between King and Ellis as my first "draft choice" to stock my team...well, I'm not sure who I would pick. If anyone wants to argue that King was the most explosive, dynamic, unstoppable, etc., etc., I wouldn't argue with that. However, in view of the fact that Ellis was as great on defense as he was on offense, I stand by my statement that he was the MOST COMPLETE player in UT history.

Johnlg you know your stuff. I was there during the Ellis years and he was fantastic. In hindsight its hard to believe that Devoe started Federman or Willie Burton over Ellis his Freshman year. I think without question both of those players (King and Ellis) would be on any all time UT team. I would love to know who else others here would put on those teams.

Me I would add Lofton, Grunfield and Houston. Maybe put Tom Borwinkle as the center and have one of those others (Lofton or Grunfield) coming off the bench.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As another poster stated, you have to take the different coaching philosophies into account. DeVoe didn't play Ellis early because he insisted on playing the best defensive players, not because he couldn't score. Mears made his reputation as a defensive coach but he realized that he had a major talent on his hands with King, so he protected him on defense by playing zone. I think King was one of the greats in college basketball, and I don't disagree with anyone who says he was UT's best of all time. I just think Ellis is under-rated compared to how great he really was, and he had a wider ARRAY of skills than anyone ever at UT.

wayoutwill writes:

If you don't love this kid,then God help ya!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The real reason Ellis couldn't lace King's shoes is because if he laced them too tight King's knees would blow out! C'mon Ellis was much better all 'round. King was fun to watch tho wasn't he?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I'll probably get a lot of flak from this, but Charles Barkely may (I said MAY) have been possibly as dominant as King, Ellis, or Maravich. O'neal was Dominant and the last 3 Florida NC teams were amazing. But no team got the volunteer nations attention like Lofton and J. Smith's vols their last 2 years!
I can't bring myself to mention any former Kentucky players. I will mention Dominique Wilkins...The reason I was a Hawk fan for so many years.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

That's BARKLEY...I can't type.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features