KNOXVILLE - Bruce Pearl has feverishly searched for a shooter to complement all the athleticism on his Tennessee basketball roster, and he finally snatched one today.
And it won't cost the Volunteers anything yet.
Sweet-shooting Skylar McBee from Grainger County High School chose to walk on to UT after spending several hours with Pearl and support staff members.
McBee, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound, multisport star, chose academic scholarship money from his in-state school over full athletic offers from Santa Clara, Marshall, Winthrop and College of Charleston.
"I'd narrowed it down to walking on at UT or taking a scholarship to Santa Clara, but in the end, I had to stay with my dream," McBee said this evening. "If you have a dream, you need to follow it.
"I knew it was a risk, but I also knew I'd kick myself in the rear for the rest of my life if I didn't do this. I've always wanted to be a Vol, and now I am a Vol, and I'm really happy."
McBee said his parents won't be too burdened financially by the decision. His 3.65 grade point average helped him land a HOPE scholarship and other smaller scholarships.
"And who knows?" he added. "Maybe I can work my way up and earn a scholarship, like (former McMinn County High School star) JaJuan Smith did."
McBee - also a multiyear starter at quarterback, safety and return specialist for the Grainger County football team - was named all-state in basketball last season after averaging 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals per game. He described himself as a natural shooting guard who hoped to develop into a combo or point guard at UT.
"I don't think being a walk-on will change anything. I'm coming here to work hard and win," he said. "If nothing else, maybe I can be another body to help the team in practice, but I hope to earn a spot out there on the floor."
McBee scoffed at the notion that he's simply a spot-up shooter, and his summer AAU success with the Tennessee-based Mid State Ballerz solidified that point.
"He reminds many of us in Eastern Tennessee of former Florida hotshot Lee Humphrey," one Scouts Inc. analyst wrote. "His picture perfect jumper is a thing of beauty, and his understanding of the game is well above his years. McBee plays in a rural environment but was awesome this summer playing for a top-notch (AAU) program that showcased his skills and brought him some much needed attention."