Strange: No Bone to pick on latest walk-on hero

Last Sunday against Kansas, Skylar McBee earned his spot in the Tennessee Basketball Walk-On Ring of Honor.

All it took was a couple of seconds to make a crossover-dribble and swish a leaning 3-pointer.

On Saturday against Ole Miss, Josh Bone earned his spot in the Tennessee Basketball Walk-on Ring of Honor.

It took a little longer and required a little more energy. Like 14 gut-checking minutes worth.

For sure, Tennessee doesn't pull out a 71-69 overtime win over the Rebels without some offense from Bone. He hit two of UT's biggest baskets.

His 3-pointer capped a 15-2 run and gave UT its first lead, 55-54. In overtime he broke a 61-61 tie with another trey.

But, more importantly, Tennessee doesn't win without his defense.

The Rebels' Chris Warren hit a 3-pointer to give Ole Miss its biggest lead, 54-42, with 9:18 to play. Warren is the complete offensive package, cat-quick and a dead-eye from long range.

He'll never forget Josh Bone.

Warren didn't score another point, going 0-for-6 and giving up two turnovers in the final 14:18.

One of the misses was a 3-pointer to win at the end of regulation with Bone in his face.

UT's starting point guard, Bobby Maze, is the reigning SEC player of the week and he justified the honor in wins over Kansas and then Auburn on Thursday night.

But it was Bone, the walk-on who just became eligible last month, who closed out the week with those 14 shut-down minutes against Ole Miss.

"Josh was playing great defense,'' UT coach Bruce Pearl said. "That's the only reason he was out there.

"It was not a punishment on Bobby. Bobby played so well against Auburn and he just didn't have any legs. You could see it from the beginning. He couldn't keep Warren in front of him.''

A couple of weeks ago, Pearl would have turned to Melvin Goins to try to defuse Warren. But Goins has been suspended since the Jan. 1 incident that led to Tyler Smith being dismissed from the team.

Enter Bone, one of the three walk-ons thrust into UT's depleted rotation.

He walked on at Tennessee at mid-term last season after a stellar high school career at Brentwood Academy and then two years as a scholarship player at Southern Illinois.

He was a starter as a sophomore at SIU, a good program in a tough league, the Missouri Valley Conference.

"It wasn't a really a bad situation,'' Bone said Saturday, "I knew it just wasn't a correct fit.

"But I'm glad they taught me how to play D. They stressed defense all the time. That's what I look to bring to the table.''

At 6-foot-3, Bone offers a defensive dimension the 5-11 Goins does not.

"Melvin,'' said Pearl, "can apply great ball pressure. Josh built a wall and you couldn't get around him.

"Warren couldn't turn the corner on him.''

Bone had several mid-major scholarship offers when he left SIU. Some big schools, namely Oklahoma State and Xavier, asked him to walk on.

But when UT called, it was over. He was headed to Knoxville, which is where he wanted to be in the first place.

Pearl had seen Bone once, scouting a high school game in Jackson, Tenn: Bolivar Central with Wayne Chism and Willie Kemp against Brentwood Academy with Brandan Wright and Bone.

Pearl got Chism. Wright went to North Carolina and Kemp to Memphis. Bone, the runner-up to Wright as Class AA Mr. Basketball, went off to SIU.

"Willie Kemp couldn't score on Josh Bone,'' Pearl recalled. "I thought, 'Who is this guy? Maybe I made a mistake.'

"We're glad he's here now.''

Better late than never, Bone figures, and he feels a sense of urgency to make the most of his belated opportunity.

Friday night, the Harlem Globetrotters played at Thomson-Boling Arena. After the last trick shot, crowd filed out. Bone filed in.

All by his lonesome, with only the clean-up crew for an audience, he worked on his shooting rhythm, bothered that his 3-point shot hadn't been falling. It fell twice against the Rebels.

Of course, being alone, he couldn't work on defense. Then again, he didn't need to. It was already there.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 39

zigvol writes:

Glad you are here young man... GO VOLS

stayingorange writes:

Way to step up.

Orange_Crush writes:

He's a good player. Gives us good minutes while Bobby rests, plays hard, protects the basketball.

rockytopatl writes:

I wonder if Goins and Tatum have been sitting on their butts all this time, falling out of shape. Any wagers on that one?

rootin4volz writes:

Great effort today Josh. Way to be!

baldfan writes:

I would like to know josh's reaction/relationship to the SIU player who passed away Thurs.

stayingorange writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

I wonder if Goins and Tatum have been sitting on their butts all this time, falling out of shape. Any wagers on that one?

Pearl said today on postgame interview that all 3 suspended players have been running the entire time as part of their discipline. He said Williams has lost 10 pounds.

richvol writes:

This game made me older by about five years. Down twelve with nine minutes to go I thought there was no way we could come back...especially the way we were playing. Tells you what I know. Great job guys. Very proud of you and this win.

samvol writes:

I like Bone...great addition to the Vols...welcome!

schymtz writes:

Glad to know that Bone was with the SIU Salukis! It's a bit difficult to keep up with Southern Illinois from east Tennessee until they make the dance in March, but I have some good memories of Carbondale Basketball. Welcome to Tennessee, Mr. Bone. Witch_Doctor will love your surname along with your D. Thanks for a fantastic game.

DoubleDFan writes:

Way to go Bone!

Basketvol writes:

Who knew? Great game Bone! Will he get a scholarship next year along with Skylar?

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to Basketvol:

Who knew? Great game Bone! Will he get a scholarship next year along with Skylar?

That's what I'm bettin'.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

bobbarbilly writes:

Great game Josh !!! Way to d-bone the opposition.

l.lloyd30#1379433 writes:

I tell you what this player Bones is really exciting to watch, my opinion is that Bones is a all around better player than Goins, Great comeback yesterday boys, I'f this was a non-pearl team, they would have lost yesterday. Like the Teams in the past. GBO

givehim6 writes:

It's funny how great a team can play once thay start playing with all there heart!

ILLvolfan writes:

All hail the walk ons. One hell of an awsome game.

eduardo writes:

The guy with his body lean reminds me of Dale Ellis. Anybody else see it???

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

if you only had 2 schol. to give, who would you give them to, out of Skylar, Josh, Maymon, Pearl.

Next yr. lineup ?
Team 1 - Hopson, Tatum, Goins, Hall, Woolridge

Team 2 - Golden, McRae, Tobias, Bone, Williams

bench Maymon, Pearl.

Feel bad for Pearl, he's like Kippy Brown.

With that lineup, I have a feeling coach goes back to 9 or 10 man rotation. Chemistry?? Anyone think Maymon will accept a bench role as 10th or 11th man??

Bloodrunzorange writes:

As a fellow BA and UT grad....I am proud of Josh! Good luck for the rest of the season and Go Vols!!!

volsunited writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

if you only had 2 schol. to give, who would you give them to, out of Skylar, Josh, Maymon, Pearl.

Next yr. lineup ?
Team 1 - Hopson, Tatum, Goins, Hall, Woolridge

Team 2 - Golden, McRae, Tobias, Bone, Williams

bench Maymon, Pearl.

Feel bad for Pearl, he's like Kippy Brown.

With that lineup, I have a feeling coach goes back to 9 or 10 man rotation. Chemistry?? Anyone think Maymon will accept a bench role as 10th or 11th man??

I would think Tobias Harris will start next year he is an excellent ball player!

utvolz#637682 writes:

Bone was in lock down mode yesterday. One of the best games I've been to. We never had a lead in the game until near the end of the game. Pulled off a great 2 pt win in OT. Yesterday, there was NO QUIT in this team. Two tough SEC wins since Thursday night. No rest, as they visit Bama Tuesday. GO VOLS and great game Josh!

CapitolC writes:

Goins and Tatum best be ready to step up - It appears that their slots have been filled.

volinvegas writes:

It looks to me like Tyler Smith's dismissal woke the vols up. It's no longer 4 guys standing around waiting on Smith to do something spectacular. Every player on the team has stepped up their game. GBO.

newportvol writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

if you only had 2 schol. to give, who would you give them to, out of Skylar, Josh, Maymon, Pearl.

Next yr. lineup ?
Team 1 - Hopson, Tatum, Goins, Hall, Woolridge

Team 2 - Golden, McRae, Tobias, Bone, Williams

bench Maymon, Pearl.

Feel bad for Pearl, he's like Kippy Brown.

With that lineup, I have a feeling coach goes back to 9 or 10 man rotation. Chemistry?? Anyone think Maymon will accept a bench role as 10th or 11th man??

Pearl doesnt need a scholarship His Tution is paid for ..If your parent is a employee of the university of Tn your tution is free.. Thats y he a walkon

BubbaJ writes:

in response to Basketvol:

Who knew? Great game Bone! Will he get a scholarship next year along with Skylar?

Both Skylar and Josh are worthy of scolarships as
I see it. They are both pure basketball players, not your 4 or 5 star recruit, but maybe
we just need a couple of these type kids to keep this team in the fight. That they are both in-state kids is nice too.

I for one hope that these 2 keep their minutes when Goins and Tatum return, they have earned it, those other guys are just lucky to still be on the team. I for one don't think Pearl needs them, or Williams for that matter. Kenny Hall is
so much better than Williams.

Voltose writes:

in response to newportvol:

Pearl doesnt need a scholarship His Tution is paid for ..If your parent is a employee of the university of Tn your tution is free.. Thats y he a walkon

Thought it was only half off. Either way im sure he'll be fine

CoverOrange writes:

In regard to scholarships available, I wonder how many will be. If Negedu didn't stay in school (IDK), Josh Tabb taking a powder and Tyler Smith looking to the pros what will the graduation and academic progress rate be? We are already done one scholly.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to BubbaJ:

Both Skylar and Josh are worthy of scolarships as
I see it. They are both pure basketball players, not your 4 or 5 star recruit, but maybe
we just need a couple of these type kids to keep this team in the fight. That they are both in-state kids is nice too.

I for one hope that these 2 keep their minutes when Goins and Tatum return, they have earned it, those other guys are just lucky to still be on the team. I for one don't think Pearl needs them, or Williams for that matter. Kenny Hall is
so much better than Williams.

I think I agree. With Bone's emergence, we have plenty of depth at guard. Goins may not be needed, but he gives added depth in case of injury. He'll have to fight for PT.

However, we need more depth at the three and at the posts. I see Tatum getting some minutes right away spelling Hopson at the three. Williams should be behind the other post players for PT initially. With Hall's emergence (he really looks good to me, and better each game, I agree he's better than Williams now), I'd like to see more of Chism at the four and Hall at the five, with Williams and Woolridge backing them.

Our big weakness is perimeter shooting. Ole Miss zone was effective because we don't have a zone buster. Look for other teams to go zone against us, too. Prior to the Ole Miss game, however, our outside shooting wasn't bad, it was getting better. I noticed that we were tired against Ole Miss because so many of our shots were short, which is an indicator. Maze, especially. Perhaps between Bone, Maze, and McBee, someone can be hot each game from the perimeter. Then, there's always the option to pull Chism out to shoot the three!!

I'd like to see Hopson stay more involved with the offense. He seems to get lost for long periods of time. He also seems to have lost confidence in his outside shooting. It would be nice if he could recover that touch.

All in all, this team is making some nice progress, especially on defense. If the three amigos can be integrated back in successfully, if we find more outside offensive firepower, and if we can keep getting better defensively, this team has a chance to do special things.

jclowers writes:

I think Tennessee is making a push for one of the most interesting teams this year. You start the year off with everyone back from a team that underachieved, then you play Purdue to the wire, get blown out at USC and then bounce back with a big win over Memphis. Then the suspensions and suddenly Tennessee becomes a much better TEAM with wins over #1 Kansas, Auburn and Ole Miss.

All the headlines this year have been can TN get back to the intensity they showed in early Pearl Years, then after Memphis it was can Tennessee steal Kentucky's thunder in the SEC, then it was how does TN cope with losing 4 players, then it was how did TN beat the #1 team with 3 walk-ons and now we have to deal with how do we handle having two players back in the rotation.

This team was made for ESPN and other news outlets to cover. Hopefully we will have even bigger headlines come March.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

if you only had 2 schol. to give, who would you give them to, out of Skylar, Josh, Maymon, Pearl.

Next yr. lineup ?
Team 1 - Hopson, Tatum, Goins, Hall, Woolridge

Team 2 - Golden, McRae, Tobias, Bone, Williams

bench Maymon, Pearl.

Feel bad for Pearl, he's like Kippy Brown.

With that lineup, I have a feeling coach goes back to 9 or 10 man rotation. Chemistry?? Anyone think Maymon will accept a bench role as 10th or 11th man??

I think next year will be:

5-Hall/Williams
4-Harris/Woolridge or Maymon
3-Hopson/Woolridge or Tatum
2-Tatum/McBee/McRae
1-Bone/Goins/Golden

Tatum and Woolridge are the swing guys. Golden and McRae will have to develop quickly if they are going to see the floor, nothing will be given to them. I think Harris is a lock to start given how highly prized a recruit he is. I assume since Maymon transferred to get away from playing the five that he'll be playing the four. McBee might become starter at the two if he improves alot, but I can't predict that'll happen. Tatum is probably the better all around player. Hopefully he'll dedicate himself to school and ball and stay out of trouble. As far as I can see now, the point is a toss-up between Goins and Bone. We'll see.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to BobKeslingSux:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Unfortunately, NCAA rules prohibit signing more than 5 players in a year. Fortunately, some of the walk-ons, like Bone and McBee can count on last year's list if there's room, or even the year before if they redshirted. There are numerous ways around the limitations but any way we go, next year's team will look completely different. Go Vols!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

This team is definitely more team-oriented since Tyler's dismissal but eventually the lack of depth will catch up. Getting Goins and Tatum back is huge but Chism still needs some bench time and I don't think Hall is nearly as reliable as Williams at this point. As the season wears on and guys get banged up and tired, they are going to need all hands on deck, especially with the way Pearl likes his teams to play. IF Williams makes it back in the next few weeks, we should be OK even without Tyler. They play harder, spread the ball more, and pick up each other's slack. Before they seemed to be content to watch Tyler play. Brian's hearing is January 29, so if that turns out OK, I'll bet Pearl reinstates him too. However, it is a little concerning that he's keeping him off the team this long for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Is there more to the story? Was he also involved with the guns? Has he been in trouble before? Does anybody know? This week is crucial. Bama and Georgia are NOT elite teams and we can't afford to lose to either of them if we want any kind of seeding come March. In fact, if we can get through the next 4 games unbeaten (add Vandy and Florida at home), we will go a long way towards a Top 4 seed, something you really need to advance. Go Vols!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to baldfan:

I would like to know josh's reaction/relationship to the SIU player who passed away Thurs.

Bone went to Southern Illinois; the guy who died went to Southern Indiana. That is where Pearl coached before he went to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Since it has been about eight or nine years since he coached there, Pearl couldn't have known the kid. Everybody should feel bad about any kid who dies that way, but there is no UT connection.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volsunited:

I would think Tobias Harris will start next year he is an excellent ball player!

Some people had Harris rated as the #5-rated prospect in the whole country. A guy like that is not only expected to start, he is expected to STAR! The team may be in the same "too many players-too few minutes" bind they started this season with. OTOH, that looks like a pretty quick squad that may actually be able to press more than this year's, making it possible to play a lot of guys.

I hope CBP will at least CONSIDER creating a "quick team" to press and fast-break and a "strong team" to play half-court, substituting them as units, and NOT regard all the players as interchangeable parts. In some games, one squad may get more minutes and the other more in other games. BOTH teams would have the chance to develop real cohesion by practicing and playing as units. That may be a dumb idea, but if I were CBP with that team, I would be tempted to consider it.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

In regard to scholarships available, I wonder how many will be. If Negedu didn't stay in school (IDK), Josh Tabb taking a powder and Tyler Smith looking to the pros what will the graduation and academic progress rate be? We are already done one scholly.

I think Negedu would qualify for a medical exception to the scholarship limits. He could still receive help to continue in school but wouldn't count against team scholarships. His case shouldn't count against the team's grad/APR stats, either, but Tyler might. Not sure how Tabb's situation fits into all that, but, you are right, this IS an important consideration. Hate to be one of the guys who gets screwed in that deal, if any do.

rockyknox writes:

Without Bone shutting down Chris Warren we lose the game. I will be very interested to see if he can slow down John Wall when we play the Cats. Welcome aboard Josh.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agreed.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Next year??? Well it does look good, but I think we can be pretty good this year. We did beat Kansas. Some of you may not have been impressed but the rest of the country was. I'm not certain but I think even the ESPN "experts" may be Vol fans now!

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