McBee looks to polish game, facial hair
By Gabriel Garcia | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — Skyler McBee’s facial hair is going through something of an upgrade this summer. And the rising Tennessee senior’s shot is as smooth and deadly as his chin is scruffy.
The shooting guard — now sporting a pointed goatee to go along with his now-fabled moustache from the Vols’ 2011-12 campaign — showed his ability to be a force for coach Cuonzo Martin’s squad next season, scoring 25 points for the R. Larry Smith Insurance team in its 131-117 win over Rice Buick GMC in Rocky Top Basketball League play Wednesday at Bearden High School.
The former walk-on from Grainger High School in Rutledge nailed seven 3-pointers in that game, six of those in the first half, and he looks to do much of the same for a Tennessee squad aiming to take the top spot in the SEC in 2012-13.
“Our goal is to come out and play well against every opponent and win an SEC championship,” said McBee, whose Vols were in some prognosticators’ top 25 lists for next season. “That’s our main goal, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.
“I think we’re going to be a strong team in the SEC and we’ve just got to play well.”
Aside from playing in the summer league, the 6-foot, 3-inch McBee who the PA announcer calls the “Grizzly Bear Gunner” has spent most of the summer in Knoxville working out and practicing in preparation for the Vols’ run at improving on last season, which ended in the second round of the NIT. But McBee has managed to take a few trips back home to Grainger County, where both he and second-year coach Martin have received plenty of support.
“Everybody seems to enjoy coach Martin and likes the way he does things, and so I’ve got a lot of positive feedback on his coaching style and the way things are going,” said McBee, who hopes to improve on a 39.1 3-point percentage from last season. “I do get a lot of support from back home, and that’s a blessing to see a lot of the fans from back home supporting me and calling me.”
Back in Knoxville, McBee emphasized putting on a good display for the fans, as well as the experience of playing against current and former college standouts from around East Tennessee.
“It’s been going well. It’s good for the fans,” McBee said. “It’s good for us to get to come out and get a run in and play with different guys from different schools around the community. It’s just good experience and we have a lot of fun with it.”
And the fans who have attended the games in the Bearden gymnasium and got a sneak preview of McBee’s new facial hair pattern have given that a good review, too.
“I’ve definitely gotten better feedback for both than just the moustache,” he said.
But much like his basketball game, there’s always room for improvement there, too.
“It’s getting long. I’m working on my mountain man beard. It don’t really come in right here,” said McBee, pointing to the still smooth cheeks of his face.
And unless Martin tells him otherwise, Vol fans will see the goatee, and hopefully a full beard, this winter.
“He hasn’t made an ultimatum yet, so I’m still working on it,” McBee said.