Jordan McRae still going through the 'process' of getting ready for NBA

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) makes a 3-point attempt as Alabama forward Devonta Pollard (24) defends during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. Alabama won 58-48 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) makes a 3-point attempt as Alabama forward Devonta Pollard (24) defends during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. Alabama won 58-48 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Jordan McRae began the 2012-13 season coming off the bench for Tennessee men’s basketball.

He ended it struggling over a decision to return for his senior year or pursue his NBA dream.

Much has happened these past eight months. On Monday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena, two days after declaring he’ll indeed stay for a final season at Tennessee, McRae did some reflecting.

“Every player dreams to one day get to the NBA, but you don’t really realize how much of a process it is until you’re in it,” said the 6-foot-6 McRae, an All-SEC first team selection by both the league coaches and media. “When you’re younger you think, ‘oh, the NBA will call and I’ll be ready.’ But there were times recently where I was really worried about my future — where I was going to be. Ultimately

I think I made the right choice.”

McRae started the final 21 games of the season, averaging 19.2 points against SEC competition (third in league) in 37.7 minutes per game (first in the SEC).

Those numbers will be challenging to duplicate in a senior campaign that might see McRae named the SEC preseason player of the year. If rising junior Jarnell Stokes also spurns the NBA to return to UT, the Vols will welcome back 82.8 percent of their scoring from the past season.

Then toss Jeronne Maymon and Robert Hubbs III into the mix. Maymon, who missed all of 2012-13 with a knee injury, was UT’s second-leading scorer in 2011-12 at 12.7 points per game. Hubbs, an incoming five-star freshman from Dyer County, is a 6-6 shooting guard with deep range and above-the-rim ability.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin told the News Sentinel on Monday that he plans to cut McRae’s minutes back to a more manageable 28-to-30 per game next year.

That leaves a two-part recipe for McRae.

“The fact of the matter is, I’m not going to average 20 points per game in the SEC,” he said. “The bright side is, I won’t have to. We’re going to be good. We’re going to be balanced. I’m going out there trying to be more efficient.”

And the goals are more far-reaching than that.

“There are a lot of things I want to do, not for me personally, but with this team,” McRae said. “The fans deserve an NCAA tournament and as hard as we’ve worked, we deserve it.”

Much of McRae’s decision was dictated by feedback he received from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee. The group of NBA executives produces reports on where potential early entries could be drafted and evaluates each player.

“I have to gain some weight and just work on a lot of things in my game,” said McRae, who weighs 178 pounds. “Ultimately, I didn’t feel like I was ready and I wasn’t going to let anybody else pressure me into thinking I can develop there (in the NBA). I want to develop before I’m there. I felt like I wasn’t ready.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.

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Comments » 25

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

It's great to see a level headed young man who doesn't let an over sized ego cloud up his thinking. Good for him and good news for his team and Tennessee fans.

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

Very smart decision. I wonder if he got a call from Scotty Hopson?

jjk writes:

Good! Because I was going to say he needs to go through the process of coming back for his senior year and helping UT contend for the SEC title and get to the Big Dance.

eb502us#225637 writes:

The whole McRae to the NBA talk is a big joke. His skills in no way shape or form translate to the NBA.

He will still play after college, but it will be in front of an audience whose first language is something other than English.

DerekMcCosh writes:

Sometimes clear thinking makes one a better ball player. Smart move Mr. McRae!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

The whole McRae to the NBA talk is a big joke. His skills in no way shape or form translate to the NBA.

He will still play after college, but it will be in front of an audience whose first language is something other than English.

Congrats, you get the knucklehead comment of the day award.

FWBVol writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

The whole McRae to the NBA talk is a big joke. His skills in no way shape or form translate to the NBA.

He will still play after college, but it will be in front of an audience whose first language is something other than English.

You very well could be correct, but even so he will get a salary well into the six figure range while living on someone else's dime. There are a lot worse ways to make a living than playing ball overseas.

I know a kid from my area that played his college ball at Texas Tech and has now finished two seasons in Europe and he loves the experience. He was a newlywed this season and it was like he was on an extended honeymoon as his wife was able to go to Europe with him.

thevoice writes:

Still need to sell the farm for a damn good point guard.

alraguc#466367 writes:

Good decision. Fifteen or so really good games in a college season does not necessarily translate to the grueling 82 game NBA season. He can still improve his game and be better prepared for the next level.

tturley#297658 writes:

McRae has great shooting and penetration skills, another year in college, and 15-20lbs on his frame, and he'll be a mid-late first rounder. Welcome back Jordon, look forward to seeing you play another year at UT!

CactusJack writes:

I think it was a good move by Jordan McRae, looks like he did a nice evaluation of where he was and where he was going. I don't like the one and done deal, or the NBA raiding these schools early. If a guy thinks he can play in the NBA coming out of high school, let him try, but if he chooses college, he needs to stay at least two years.

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

The whole McRae to the NBA talk is a big joke. His skills in no way shape or form translate to the NBA.

He will still play after college, but it will be in front of an audience whose first language is something other than English.

I spent 7 years in Europe with the Army and loved every minute of living abroad. I know you are poking fun at McRae's basketball skills, but I think he can play anywhere he wants. The NBA carries prestige of being the best competition, but life is more than that.

If I had the choice of NBA or playing overseas, I would pick abroad. It's one thing to visit, quite another to live in another country. I say, get off the couch; go somewhere; do something!

SouthPaVol writes:

Thanks, McRae. You just filled TBA next year. If I wasn't 5 hours from Knoxville, I would own season tickets next year.

If Stokes goes pro, we are still a pre-season top-20 team. If he comes back, we are top 10 and picked either first or second in SEC--which will go from a down year to one of the strongest leagues next year.

This will be a very strong team, and maybe first final four. Go Vols!

underthehill writes:

I thought today was the day Stokes had to make a decision..is that correct..

vut5686#1405392 writes:

Headlines sort of misleads this rehash of old news. He went through the process. He wants the NBA. The NBA does not want him right now. The sad part is that he entertained those ideas. Although he had a few great games, all those watching those games could have told him he is not ready to bang it with the big boys. IF he works and IF he has a productive year....maybe. IF he does those things, WE have a chance to be better.

jt45 writes:

in response to vut5686#1405392:

Headlines sort of misleads this rehash of old news. He went through the process. He wants the NBA. The NBA does not want him right now. The sad part is that he entertained those ideas. Although he had a few great games, all those watching those games could have told him he is not ready to bang it with the big boys. IF he works and IF he has a productive year....maybe. IF he does those things, WE have a chance to be better.

Nothing sad about taking the time to consider his options, after all its his future. I think this kid is just being smart and weighing in on his future. I cant imagine anyone working most of their life towards a goal that would not do the same, in fact I bet most would do the same thing if they had to consider a possible chance for a six figure income. It has nothing to do with what WE want or need to win next year but Im glad he is returning and doing so with class.

eb502us#225637 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Congrats, you get the knucklehead comment of the day award.

Can you say "thin skin" and for what? Giving an opinion that will most likely become fact.

I didn't say anything negative about his game other than it doesn't translate to the NBA. If Vegas had a line, I"d feel very safe making that wager.

hikerdude writes:

I'm glad he is staying and we'll be a better team with him. But, unless Cuonzo learns to scheme a game, we'll be 20-10 next year and go out in the first round if we make it to the dance.

rbwtn writes:

Glad to hear a thought out comment McRae You just turn pro. you will be around those who are much better than you. You have to have something extra and you develop that in College. Now he knows what it takes let's hope he can get it right during his Senior Year. We'll be pulling for him.

rbwtn writes:

Glad to hear a thought out comment From McRae When you turn pro you will be around those who are much better or equal to you. You have to have something extra and you develop that in College. Now he knows what it takes let's hope he can get it right during his Senior Year. We'll be pulling for him.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Can you say "thin skin" and for what? Giving an opinion that will most likely become fact.

I didn't say anything negative about his game other than it doesn't translate to the NBA. If Vegas had a line, I"d feel very safe making that wager.

Assuming your opinion will become fact is obnoxious. You don't know how he'll develop over the course of a year. Plenty of NBA prospects develop over a whole years time especially since he now has the knowledge straight from the NBA about what he needs to work on.

Jordan has improved greatly from when he first got here. I see him continuing to improve. Who knows where that will take him. Like you say he'll play somewhere after college for sure.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Can you say "thin skin" and for what? Giving an opinion that will most likely become fact.

I didn't say anything negative about his game other than it doesn't translate to the NBA. If Vegas had a line, I"d feel very safe making that wager.

But you are a knucklehead.

Doesn't translate? What does that mean? Are you simply repeating what some talking head said on ESPN?

GerryOP writes:

in response to underthehill:

I thought today was the day Stokes had to make a decision..is that correct..

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

For all you folks responding to eb502, he probably forgot to mention that he was an NBA talent scout. lol

BetsyVol writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

I spent 7 years in Europe with the Army and loved every minute of living abroad. I know you are poking fun at McRae's basketball skills, but I think he can play anywhere he wants. The NBA carries prestige of being the best competition, but life is more than that.

If I had the choice of NBA or playing overseas, I would pick abroad. It's one thing to visit, quite another to live in another country. I say, get off the couch; go somewhere; do something!

Agree with you about living overseas. I spent ten years as an Army Brat in the Far East. Great experience. Only downside was that I ended up with a funny accent for a Tennessean..

Glad McRae is returning. I have to wonder if cutting his minutes back will make much of a difference. He’ll be on the floor better rested, and maybe what he doesn’t make in points scored will be made up in assists and fewer turnovers.

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