UT assistant Jon Harris talks about Hoops for Hope and upcoming fall drills
Dwight Miller has been in Knoxville for slightly more than a month, but already the junior college men's basketball transfer finds himself fitting in.
On Saturday, Miller was among the UT men's and women's basketball players who took part in the fourth annual "Hoops for Hope" basketball tournament for children with Down syndrome at Farragut High School.
Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt also was in attendance for an event she said is dear to her heart.
"We're blessed to come here and work with these kids,'' Summitt said. "It's great to see them smiling and having a great day.''
Miller, 21, has been happy since he signed with new Vols coach Cuonzo Martin out of Midland (Texas) College this past recruiting season.
The 6-foot-8 Miller was being recruited by Martin when Martin was still the Missouri State head coach before being hired at UT on March 27.
"This is a wonderful team and there's a real family atmosphere,'' Miller said. "Everyone has been receptive and open to doing the right things. I've never seen a team like this.''
Miller is expected to contribute at the power forward position. The 240-pound Bahamas native has an inside-out game.
"I think our open gym sessions have helped us all get a feel for one another and get some time to get our chemistry,'' Miller said. "I think our biggest strength is everyone knows who the athletes and shooters are, and people know their roles.''
Miller, who originally started his career at Pittsburgh before transferring to Midland, averaged only 8.2 points last season.
"I can put points on the board, but there is no 'I' in team,'' Miller said. "We only had one guy average in double figures on our (junior college) team last season, but that was because everyone played for each other and made the extra pass.''
Vols' junior Jeronne Maymon, who will also play power forward along with some time at the post, said Miller does indeed appear to be a great fit.
"At first he was kind of quiet, but he's really opened up,'' Maymon said. "He's very strong and bouncy, and his shot is really coming along.''
Miller said he's eager to show the UT staff in person how he can contribute to the team.
"I think everyone is ready to go this week,'' Miller said, regarding the start of individual drills on Wednesday. "That's all we've been talking about — showing the coaches we're ready to do whatever is necessary.''
UT assistant coach Jon Harris said he's also eager for the start of practice.
On Saturday, Harris said the Vols were doing what was necessary by giving their time to a charitable cause.
"This is a big part of our job,'' Harris said. "The community get to know our staff — there's a lot of new faces — so any time we can get out for this type of community work, it benefits everyone.''
The men's basketball team has also made charitable appearances at the bone marrow drive for Anna Martin at Hardin Valley Church of Christ, the Butterfly Fund 5K in Sequoyah Hills, the Clinic for at-risk youth at the Knox County public defender's office and Habitat for Humanity.
Harris has shouldered more responsibility since Martin has been in China working as an assistant coach with the U.S. Men's Junior National team.
"This is a really good group of guys with their maturity level and the way they respect our staff even with Coach Martin not being around,'' Harris said.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball and can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32