Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean there isn’t news, notes, quotes and tidings from Tennessee men’s basketball. Away we go
Rocky Top Roundup: The annual Rocky Top League championship and third-place games have been moved from Wednesday to Tuesday. The site, Christian Academy of Knoxville, and game times, 6 and 7:30 p.m., remain the same.
The games were moved because UT players will be dismissed from offseason workouts after summer classes conclude Wednesday. That will immediately lead to an orange exodus. Those departures would detract from the games.
Jordan McRae is already off campus, but is expected to return for the Rocky Top League on Tuesday. The UT rising senior is spending the weekend in Washington, D.C., at the Kevin Durant Skills Camp, which concludes on Sunday.
McRae has turned the Rocky Top League into his personal playground. He’s averaging 46.3 points, dropped 61 in one game, and scored 29 second-half points in a game last week.
“He’s just hitting everything he puts up,” said fellow Vol Josh Richardson.
Having seen McRae in some summer workouts, coach Cuonzo Martin cited the player’s rising confidence.
“That’s a major asset to him,” Martin said. “He feels like no one can guard him.”
More on McRae: The Durant Skills Camp is stocked with some of the top college and high school wings in the country. McRae is rooming with Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson and competing against the likes of Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early, Connecticut’s DeAndre Daniels, Memphis’ Geron Johnson, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kentucky’s Alex Poythress and Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III, among others.
A media member at the camp told the News Sentinel that McRae, “Played well, scored a bunch. Went at Durant when he had a chance, and didn’t get embarrassed.”
Stokes Abroad: Jarnell Stokes and the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team kept churning in the FIBA U19 World Championship on Saturday. The Americans topped Russia 115-47, with six points and six rebounds from Stokes, to improve to 3-0 in the tournament. Those wins have come by an average of 60.3 points. The United States won Group D and will play Brazil in the Round of 8 on Monday.
Playing just under 13 minutes per game in Prague, Czech Republic, Stokes is averaging 10.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and is 13-for-18 from the field.
Schedule Update: As the News Sentinel reported Friday, UT and N.C. State agreed to a two-year, home-and-home series beginning in 2013-14 at Thompson-Boling Arena. An official contract is in the works.
Other confirmed games include home dates against Virginia, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, USC-Upstate and The Citadel, a game connected to the Vols’ participation in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. UT’s road games include Xavier and Wichita State.
One additional non-conference game remains undecided.
Tennessee will be joined at the Battle 4 Atlantis by Kansas, Iowa, Southern Cal, UTEP, Villanova, Wake Forest and Xavier. The bracket has yet to be finalized.
The Vols also will play two preseason exhibitions. Martin said one will be open to the public at Thompson-Boling Arena against a non-Division I team and the other will be a closed-door scrimmage against another D1 team. Martin is looking to schedule a true road game for the latter.
Hopson to the Heat: USA Today reported on Friday that former Vol Scotty Hopson signed with the Miami Heat’s summer league team.
No Chievous?: Tennessee’s Quinton Chievous has not taken part in the Rocky Top League. According to Martin, the sophomore guard is not injured and chose not to participate in the voluntary league.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Martin said.
Former NBA Veteran’s son on Campus: Derrik Smits, the son of former Indiana Pacers center Rik Smits, took an unofficial visit to UT on Friday. The 6-foot-10 high school junior is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com. He holds a scholarship offer from Xavier, among other programs.
Yarbrough in Town: Former Vol Vincent Yarbrough will be in Knoxville on July 13 and July 20 lending a hand to former UT walk-on Rob Murphy’s youth summer camps. Murphy recently was named Concord Christian School basketball coach and athletic director and is holding camps at the school from 1 to 5 p.m. each day for boys grades 6-8. Info is available at maxoutbball.com.
Newcomer Notes from the Rocky Top League:
Robert Hubbs: The five-star freshman can take, and make, 3-pointers from a variety of spots. That’s combined with freakish athleticism. According to Martin, the 6-foot-5 Hubbs has a 33-inch flat-footed vertical leap.
Darius Thompson: Smooth and unhurried, the Murfreesboro native looks the part of a calculating point guard. Thompson is baby-faced and slender, making him look like a middle-schooler at times.
A.J. Davis: Thin and agile at 6-foot-8, Davis is a physical carbon copy of current Vol Derek Reese, but more athletic. He offers a capable jump shot and moves well in the open court.
Rawane “Pops” Ndiaye: Wide-bottomed and thick-shouldered, the junior college transfer fills the paint. At 6-10, 250 pounds, Ndiaye appears comfortable with the ball and is more skilled around the hoop than Yemi Makanjuola, who he essentially replaced at backup center.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn