Venue change, anticipated debuts should bring breath of fresh air to Rocky Top League

Choice Spines Jordan McRae, right, drives against John Higgins of R. Larry Smith Insurance during the championship game of the Pilot Rocky Top League Monday, July 2, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. R. Larry Smith Insurance won 131-124.

Photo by Wade Payne, copyright © 2012

Choice Spines Jordan McRae, right, drives against John Higgins of R. Larry Smith Insurance during the championship game of the Pilot Rocky Top League Monday, July 2, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. R. Larry Smith Insurance won 131-124.

Last year’s Pilot Rocky Top League lacked its normal appeal.

The annual summer league — comprised of future, current and past Tennessee men’s basketball players and a slew of players with Knoxville ties — was more or less a dud. The Vols didn’t boast a touted incoming freshman to draw curious eyes. Team members Jarnell Stokes and Trae Golden were unavailable to play. Late afternoon temperatures inside Bearden High School’s homey gym often rose to Saharan levels.

All that, boasts Rocky Top League commissioner Andre Whitehead, will change this summer.

“It’s going to be very different — for the better,” Whitehead said.

Primarily, a new home will deliver air conditioning.

The Rocky Top League is moving to Christian Academy of Knoxville this summer. According to Whitehead, the dates are set for June 17, 19, 24 and 26 with the semifinals on July 1 and championship game on July 3.

“We needed a great location,” Whitehead said. “CAK is a little smaller than Bearden, but it’s more centrally located and meets all our needs. And did I mention the air conditioning?”

The change in location means CAK will host the highly anticipated Knoxville debut of incoming UT freshman Robert Hubbs III. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Dyer County High is a five-star prospect and rated as the top prospect in the state by 247sports.com.

According to Whitehead, Hubbs and fellow incoming freshman A.J. Davis, Darius Thompson and Travon Landry are expected to participate, while confirmation on incoming junior college transfer Rawane Ndiaye is still up in the air.

As for the current UT roster, Whitehead is expecting full participation with the exception of senior forward Jeronne Maymon, who missed all the 2012-13 season with a knee injury.

The league will also offer its normal array of ex-Vols. Last summer brought Bobby Maze, Wayne Chism and Melvin Goins back to Knoxville, among other former Tennessee players.

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

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Comments » 13

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Can't wait!!hehe

voloffaith writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Can't wait!!hehe

Ok!!herher

1vavolfan writes:

Don't know why people bash this league. No summer games feature much defense and if these guys aren't playing in PRTL they are playing pick up games. It's great if you have kids, it is the only place where they can get autographs and interact with the players.

sameolvolalum writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Don't know why people bash this league. No summer games feature much defense and if these guys aren't playing in PRTL they are playing pick up games. It's great if you have kids, it is the only place where they can get autographs and interact with the players.

Agreed. Besides, we know CCM is going to have these guys playing top notch defense, so why not work on the offensive nuances they'll find useful this coming season?

underthehill writes:

Good chance to see the new guys..I do plan to go..

lomas98 writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Don't know why people bash this league. No summer games feature much defense and if these guys aren't playing in PRTL they are playing pick up games. It's great if you have kids, it is the only place where they can get autographs and interact with the players.

Some bash just because they want to complain about something. I agree with your points on fan interaction and it gives the players a chance to stay conditioned and have a little competition as well.

However, I do wish they wouldn't publish the stats. It gives most fans false hope and unrealistic expectations of what these kids can do in a real season. This is just for entertainment only.

TheEffect writes:

How is CAK more centrally located than Bearden??

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I would love to watch these games. BUT they probably don't teach our players a lot. Especially about team play. Maybe the coaches will fix that this summer.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TheEffect:

How is CAK more centrally located than Bearden??

As someone who grew up near the "old" Bearden section, even I was surprised to learn several years ago that the population center of Knox County is almost in downtown Farragut.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I would love to watch these games. BUT they probably don't teach our players a lot. Especially about team play. Maybe the coaches will fix that this summer.

I thought I read something a few weeks ago to the effect that Martin was going to discourage UT players from playing in the RTL this year. Did I just imagine that? Even if they do play, the fact that the coaches can have more contact with them this summer may increase the chances that they actually use the RTL to work on their "real" game skills instead of merely running and gunning.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I thought I read something a few weeks ago to the effect that Martin was going to discourage UT players from playing in the RTL this year. Did I just imagine that? Even if they do play, the fact that the coaches can have more contact with them this summer may increase the chances that they actually use the RTL to work on their "real" game skills instead of merely running and gunning.

That sounds really good. I hadn't heard the coach's contact thing. I did read something also about Martin not wanting or discouraging players to play. But he may have left it to the players? not sure.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

That sounds really good. I hadn't heard the coach's contact thing. I did read something also about Martin not wanting or discouraging players to play. But he may have left it to the players? not sure.

I couldn't quote the details, but there is a new NCAA policy that will be in effect this summer that permits coaches to work with players more than they have been allowed to do in the past. I have not often been in K'ville when the RTL was going on, but the games I have seen are rather entertaining. I have defended Vol participation in it in the past as an alternative to the completely unregulated playground action the players would be indulging in without the RTL, though in fact the amount of time it takes leaves all too many opportunities for guys to be crippled by some young punk looking to make a reputation by taking out some college star on the blacktop somewhere.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Thanks John for info

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