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Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) and Texas A&M guard Alex Caruso (21), left, struggle for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. Texas A&M won 67-61. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)

KNOXVILLE -- Recruited to Tennessee as a point guard and used by the Volunteers as an undersized forward last season, Armani Moore has had his role change throughout his basketball career in Knoxville.

It will change again this season, when the senior becomes one of the go-to guys for new Tennessee coach Rick Barnes.

"It's very different from over the last couple of years," Moore said Monday during Tennessee's preseason media day. "I feel like last year Coach (Donnie) Tyndall showed a lot of confidence in me, and that kind of helped me going into this year. It's not limiting myself to what I can and cannot do, and I think that's very important for any basketball player.

"You should show confidence in yourself. Coach Barnes being able to show a lot of confidence in me kind of helps me as well. I'm really looking forward to this season."

Moore is Tennessee's leading returning scorer (10.3 ppg) and rebounder (6.8 rpg), and his usage rate will increase this season as the Vols intend to rely heavily on him and Kevin Punter as their primary ball-handlers, facilitators and scorers.

Barnes and Riley Davis, Tennessee's video coordinator, hosted a 90-minute film session with about 15 media members Monday afternoon, and a portion of it focused on how the Vols want to depend on the 6-foot-4 swingman from Atlanta.

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"We're going to use him everywhere," Barnes said at the news conference later Monday. "He does see the floor; he does pass the ball well. We will still use him as — I don't like to say the word undersized — but really another 4-guard. He's a guy we are hoping to create mismatches for.

"One thing about Armani is that he's very competitive. His No. 1 talent is he is a big-time competitor. He likes to compete. When he gets on the floor, he wants to win. He has a good basketball IQ. We're going to put him in positions where we'll expect him to create for us often, as much as we would ask of a point guard."

Moore is such a unique player that Barnes had trouble comparing him to any of the hundreds of players he's coached over the course of his 28-year career.

The best he came up with was P.J. Tucker, the 6-6 small forward who won 2006 Big 12 player of the year honors at Texas and now plays for the Phoenix Suns.

Assistant coach Rob Lanier went further back, to his first two years as a full-time coach at Niagara in the early 1990s, to come up with Brian Clifford.

"You would have to really dig into the crates to find this dude," he joked.

The 6-8 Clifford couldn't dunk and had terrible footwork, according to Lanier, but he became the first player in Niagara history with at least 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 150 steals in a career.

"He didn't do anything the way you taught it, but he was so effective," Lanier said. "If you were doing a drill, he'd be the worst guy to have demonstrate, but if you were playing a game, you wanted the ball in his hands as much as possible. He was so unorthodox. He was so unique as a player."

The same can be said for Moore, an undersized leaper who's most effective when he's attacking the rim. Tennessee's new staff has worked with him on improving his balance on his jump shot. If he can improve on his 23 percent career mark on 3-point shots, it will only add to his versatility.

"I definitely think I can be a mismatch problem setting picks, popping, catch and ripping to the basket," Moore said. "But at the end of the day I don't necessarily think anybody should be able to put a tag on what position somebody is.

"I feel like for me and anybody else, if you go out and compete and show that you know how to play the game of basketball, then at the end of the day all it's about is winning the basketball game. That's how I look at it."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.

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