Ricky Taylor showed up for a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball preseason practice.
But he was wearing a suit and just watched.
It's different. For three years he started at shooting guard for UTC. He started 86 games and scored 1,225 points.
But he's graduated. Gone. He's likely going to be replaced in the lineup by 6-foot-3 left-handed sophomore Ronrico White, who is the most veteran player at a key position in coach John Shulman's system.
"We are what we want to be at the 2," Shulman said. "We now have nice size at the 2, and Gee McGee is [Harouna] Mutombo of Western Carolina sized, and Eric [Robertson] and Ronrico have great size, and that's off the charts for us."
The role of shooting guard has evolved a little under Shulman. He had lights-out shooters in Keddric Mays and then Stephen McDowell, who graduated after Taylor's freshman season. Include Taylor, and their primary job was to score -- be it in transition, out of the set offense or on B-2, a play designed for the shooting guard to get an open look at a 3-pointer.
White knows the play. He likes the play. He also likes shooting from the corners out of UTC's base motion. He averaged five points per game last year in relief of Taylor. He also hit 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.
"The job at the 2 is to create a little bit for the bigs, look inside and be a basketball player and knock down shots," White said. "It's not too complex."
McGee, a 6-5 freshman, is likely first off the bench to relieve White from the 2-spot. Classmate Robertson (6-4) is learning that position as well as small forward so he could flip back and forth in the future. Redshirt junior Martynas Bareika could play there in a pinch.
"If you give it to the big man, then [opponents] have to collapse, and that eventually gets you more shots," McGee said. "Defensively, it's my job to lock them down, and nobody out here wants me guarding them."
McGee and Robertson have received more practice time at shooting guard because White has spent more than half of his time learning to play point guard while Dontay Hampton is out until at least late December.
"Those young guys are getting almost all the reps," Shulman said. "We're counting on Gee and Eric, and when they all the reps, then they turn out to be better players earlier.
"Gee, with his body and his competitive nature, you can say, 'Don't let your man score,' and he can do that. He'll be off and on scoring, but that's OK. We don't need him for that."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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