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.