Opportunity Knox

A true Volunteer has helped Tennessee hang in the hunt

Updated: February 12, 2010, 10:27 AM ET
By Carmen renee Thompson | ESPN The Magazine

This article appears in the Feb. 22 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

No one would have thought less of Skylar McBee if he'd accepted one of those scholarship offers from East Carolina, Marshall or Santa Clara. They're all decent mid-major programs, after all. If only one of them were the one school, that one big-conference school McBee wanted to play for. "I didn't want to always wonder, Could I have played at Tennessee?" says the Volunteer State native.

Skylar McBee
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesMcBee upped his minutes to 19 per game during UT's post-New Year's win streak.

And so he won't. McBee walked on at UT and so far has hit all his marks: Work butt off to earn respect? Check. Carve out a regular run off bench? Check. Sink clutch three to help beat No. 1 Kansas? Okay, that one is above and beyond. "I knew I'd have to play hard and smart," says the 19-year-old frosh. But first he needed the chance.