Skylar McBee gets Rutledge High/Grainger High School basketball jersey retired.

Adam greene/special to the news sentinel
Tennessee guard Skylar McBee stands next to his father Doug as his high school jersey is retired Saturday night at Grainger High School.

Adam greene/special to the news sentinel Tennessee guard Skylar McBee stands next to his father Doug as his high school jersey is retired Saturday night at Grainger High School.

Adam greene/special to the news sentinel
Tennessee guard Skylar McBee stands next to his father Doug as his high school jersey is retired Saturday night at Grainger High School.

Adam greene/special to the news sentinel Tennessee guard Skylar McBee stands next to his father Doug as his high school jersey is retired Saturday night at Grainger High School.

RUTLEDGE — Wearing the No. 4 jersey, University of Tennessee senior guard Skylar McBee was the last basketball star for Rutledge High School and the first star for Grainger High School.

Saturday night standing alongside his father, Doug, and mother, Sue, McBee held that same jersey, this time framed and behind glass, ensuring no one would ever wear that number again.

"To see it in a trophy case every time I come through here, it's going to be an honor," McBee said. "There are good memories here. Not just the games, but friends and family and the experiences I had here. I love being from Grainger County. I love being from Rutledge. When I come back here and get to see these people, it's really special."

Along with the framed jersey in the school's trophy case, McBee's name and number now hang on a banner next to the home goal. It was an emotional moment for Doug McBee, who still teaches and coaches basketball at Grainger.

"We're so appreciative and so humbled because of it," Doug said. "We're just Grainger Countians and we're just so proud of the way they've supported him and taken this opportunity to honor him. Words can't express how you feel at moments like this."

McBee's impact for Grainger, and three years before at Rutledge, were so notable the school almost retired his jersey when he graduated.

McBee scored 2,362 career points, averaging 22 points his junior year and 24 points his senior year. He was named to the All-District 2-AA team three times, was twice named the district's most valuable player and was a two-time All-State selection. On top of all that he was an honorable mention on the McDonald's All-American team.

But none of that got him a scholarship offer from UT. McBee, turned down offers from Santa Clara and Marshall, in order to walk on as a freshman at UT. He earned a scholarship the next season and the 6-foot-3 guard has became a key player for former coach Bruce Pearl and now for coach Cuonzo Martin.

McBee has become a role model for players from obscure and rural areas of the state.

"Kids in small, rural counties now realize what is possible," Grainger coach Derrick Combs said. "I've seen a growth in our youth camp here every summer and I think a large part of that can be contributed to Skylar. They see what can happen when they work and put the time into it."

McBee's work isn't over yet. He's the fourth-leading scorer for the Vols this season (7.3 points per game) and his 13 3-pointers lead the team.

"Playing at Tennessee is the biggest accomplishment of my life," McBee said. "Not many people from around my area get to do something like that. To be a part of the success that we've had is an honor. I'm glad it all happened. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

Adam Greene is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 11

VOLFLIAM writes:

Mcbee...Why don't you shave and look like somebody ????

GerryOP writes:

Good job Skylar ... and ... thanks for being a Vol!

voloffaith writes:

in response to VOLFLIAM:

Mcbee...Why don't you shave and look like somebody ????

Ah good morning to you also lil bluebird of happiness.......he is in college and might of wanted a different look.....some might say why don't YOU not type and be somebody and give us a different look as well........

johnlg00 writes:

I liked the comment by the GHS coach about how rural kids now know they too may indulge the dream to play at a high level. Just a thought, but many of those great shooting midwestern kids who fill the rosters of good basketball schools in Indiana especially are also from small towns and rural areas. Unlike city kids, most of them grew up shooting on goals in their backyards or nailed up on the side of their barns for hour after hour. Larry Bird, anyone? It may be harder to beat the bushes to find these guys, and one may always wonder if they can defend at a high level, but given the apparent inability of many players today to shoot open perimeter shots accurately, let alone shoot free-throws even adequately, it might behoove CCM to find the NEXT McBee toiling anonymously in the hills of East Tennessee.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I love McBee. He's an awesome guard now. He's learning to put it on the floor too. I think maybe a lot of his improvement is confidence. He works hard and deserves any accolades.

Volfan14 writes:

It might be the style, but please look in the mirror and see if you see the same thing we do!

High school awards are nice for High Schooler's. McBee is at UT now and cannot dribble, drive, pass or rebound and will not shoot unless from outside the arc. How a one dimesional player starts is beyond me. Look at how the team is playing and figure out why McBee starts?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volfan14:

It might be the style, but please look in the mirror and see if you see the same thing we do!

High school awards are nice for High Schooler's. McBee is at UT now and cannot dribble, drive, pass or rebound and will not shoot unless from outside the arc. How a one dimesional player starts is beyond me. Look at how the team is playing and figure out why McBee starts?

He still doesn't do it enough, but he has this season faked the outside shot and dribbled into a 15-footer against G'town and driven all the way to the basket against UVA. True, that's only twice, but knowing he can do it now, he might do it some more. He is a decent passer and rather a good rebounder for his size. He is a better-than-decent defender and the first on the floor after loose balls. He has way more steals and assists than turnovers. And he is an outside shooter that opponents must respect, as you clearly do not, by having somebody on him all the time. He is starting mainly because nobody has shown themselves to be consistently better at as many things.

Basketvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I liked the comment by the GHS coach about how rural kids now know they too may indulge the dream to play at a high level. Just a thought, but many of those great shooting midwestern kids who fill the rosters of good basketball schools in Indiana especially are also from small towns and rural areas. Unlike city kids, most of them grew up shooting on goals in their backyards or nailed up on the side of their barns for hour after hour. Larry Bird, anyone? It may be harder to beat the bushes to find these guys, and one may always wonder if they can defend at a high level, but given the apparent inability of many players today to shoot open perimeter shots accurately, let alone shoot free-throws even adequately, it might behoove CCM to find the NEXT McBee toiling anonymously in the hills of East Tennessee.

I love this post. I can see it in my head right now. Somewhere in the hills of Tennessee, as the sun is going down and it's getting to dark to see, there's a kid--wearing an orange number five jersey--shooting three's in his driveway. His mom is standing at the door calling him in for dinner. "I'll be there in a minute, Mom!" The clock is running out, he takes the shot at the buzzer, and . . . money! Heck yeah, let's go after that kid!

Basketvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

He still doesn't do it enough, but he has this season faked the outside shot and dribbled into a 15-footer against G'town and driven all the way to the basket against UVA. True, that's only twice, but knowing he can do it now, he might do it some more. He is a decent passer and rather a good rebounder for his size. He is a better-than-decent defender and the first on the floor after loose balls. He has way more steals and assists than turnovers. And he is an outside shooter that opponents must respect, as you clearly do not, by having somebody on him all the time. He is starting mainly because nobody has shown themselves to be consistently better at as many things.

". . .but knowing he can do it now, he might do it some more."

I hope you're right about this. Time will tell. It would mean a lot for this team if Skylar stepped up his game and showed even more leadership.

weliketoliealot writes:

I think it is much easier to work on good footwork over 4 years than it is to develop a good shot. Most of these small town kids seem to lack size but I'm sure there are a few good ones out there that fit that hustle and shoot mode well. Dane Bradshaw, then Skylar, we need another one of those guys in line.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to weliketoliealot:

I think it is much easier to work on good footwork over 4 years than it is to develop a good shot. Most of these small town kids seem to lack size but I'm sure there are a few good ones out there that fit that hustle and shoot mode well. Dane Bradshaw, then Skylar, we need another one of those guys in line.

All the big-time programs these days want the big, strong, fast guys almost regardless of the level of their fundamentals. There is no question you need several guys like that on your team, but there is a place for less-athletic guys who can PUT THE BALL IN THE BASKET! Chris Lofton was such a one. Today, look at Stephen and Seth Curry; neither one is more than 6'1" and 170 lbs, yet Steph is the starting PG and a scoring leader for the Golden State Warriors and Seth is the #2 scorer for #2-ranked Duke. No doubt either one could be taken into the post and pounded by a Russell Westbrook or a Deron Williams, but they get it back on their end because almost nobody shoots like they do. Modern S&C methods can add pounds and strength to almost any player, but a player who hasn't learned to shoot reliably by the time he gets to college likely isn't GOING to learn to shoot. In sum, it is all very well to have the best athletes but you also need guys who are PLAYERS.

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