KNOXVILLE - Less than 24 hours after watching the NBA draft into which he nearly put his name in April, Tennessee's Jordan McRae will begin trying to raise his stock for next June's draft.
The Volunteers' leading scorer last season hopes he can take advantage of an important opportunity he's been given.
McRae planned to travel to Washington, D.C., this morning for the three-day Kevin Durant Skills Academy, where the 6-foot-5 wing will serve as a counselor to the high school players in attendance and scrimmage against some NBA players, possibly including the Oklahoma City superstar, and an invitation-only group of college players.
The event is open to NBA scouts.
"It's definitely an honor, just to even go there," McRae said Monday night after scoring 42 points and making the winning basket in his Rocky Top League game. "I hope to perform well. Just going there, just learning from people and trying to learn and soak up as much information as I can and bring it back and help everybody on our team."
His breakout junior season -- McRae led the Vols in scoring (15.7 points per game), minutes played (33.6), 3-pointers made (60) and 3-point percentage (.355) -- certainly helped McRae earn the invitation. It also caused him to consider jumping into this year's draft, though he elected to return after requesting an evaluation from the NBA's undergraduate advisory committee.
"I'm just going in there to play hard, just how I am here," McRae said. "[I'm] just trying to get better. I just want to use it for as much information and skill I can bring back and help everybody else on the team."
Based on the evaluation he's received from scouts, McRae said he needs to continue adding weight to his lanky frame and improving his ability to finish near the rim amid contact.
He'll have the chance to do that this weekend in an event that last year included such collegiate stars as Syracuse's C.J. Fair, Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Kansas State's Rodney McGruder, Georgetown's Otto Porter, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross.
"This is a blessing," McRae said. "All my hard work, it's paid off. I've just got to keep going and get better."
Tennessee forwards Jarnell Stokes and Derek Reese are representing their countries in international competition across the globe.
Stokes is with the United State under-19 team in the FIBA World Championships in the Czech Republic one summer after helping the U.S. U-18 team win gold in the FIBA Americas Championship. The 6-foot-8 junior scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in 11 minutes as the Americans defeated the Ivory Coast 88-29 to open pool play Friday. Florida coach Billy Donovan is the team's coach.
The 6-8 Reese, who played in 14 games last season as a Vols freshman, is playing for the Puerto Rican national team in the FIBA Continental Champions Cup, an invitational tournament that began Thursday in China.
Forward Jeronne Maymon, the Vols' top star two years ago, remains on the road to recovery from a lingering knee problem that forced him to redshirt last season, but he's still being limited in full-contact work.
Coach Cuonzo Martin spoke confidently in giving an update on the 2011-12 All-SEC performer, who's participated in every summer individual workout and skill development session, earlier this week.
"Looks like the same guy to me, making moves off the bounce, facilitating the offense," the coach said. "You always know the team that he's on because they play at another level on both ends of the floor. He has a great passion for the game and does a tremendous job communicating on both sides of the floor and directing traffic.
"I'm not sure when he'll get cleared full time to do everything on a consistent basis every day."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.