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June 19, 2013Robert Hubbs, Darius Thompson and A.J. Davis went from three strangers sharing a signing class to the 'Three Amigos' sharing a living assignment.
Ever since the trio arrived in Knoxville, they've been everywhere and done everything together.
"They're good guys," 5-Star shooting guard Robert Hubbs said before scoring 19 points in his Rocky Top League debut Monday night. "We're getting around good, campus and all that, to workouts.
"They've got us doing everything together. We're like the Three Amigos."
It's the same on the court as it is off. Open gyms on summer nights have seen the three logging as many minutes as they can.
"We play really well together," Hubbs said. "We each play different positions. That's the best thing about it.
"Darius plays point guard, I'm a two or three and A.J. is a three or four. We bond together good."
It wasn't that long ago that the trio didn't know each other at all.
"I didn't know them really," Thompson said. "I met Robert at the state tournament. We were both in the running for Mr. Basketball."
And it wasn't that long ago that two of the three were going in different directions. Hubbs was a Tennessee commit. Thompson was headed to Vanderbilt.
When Thompson opened up his recruitment, though, Hubbs started some recruiting of his own, using social media to steer Thompson toward the Vols.
"It really helped just knowing other people would be there," Thompson said Monday, "people that wanted me there."
Now Thompson is line to get his share of game minutes with the departure of Trae Golden, leaving the will-be-freshman from Murfreesboro and transfer Antonio Barton at the point guard position.
But Golden being gone hasn't added any weight on Thompson's shoulders.
"I really didn't look at it as pressure on myself," Thompson said. "A lot of people told me that, but I didn't really think about it. It's just basketball. Have fun."
He doesn't see Barton as a position battle, either. Instead, it's a situation he can take advantage of.
"It's going to help me a lot coming in," Thompson said of the veteran Barton. "A senior guard, I'm just going to be under his wing, really. It will help me out a lot."
Meanwhile, Davis has been using the open gyms to get physical.
"AJ's definitely getting better as a defender and as an offensive player," Hubbs said. "He's getting stronger every day. He bangs with big Pops (Ndiaye) under the basket every day."
The three don't know what they're role will be come basketball season, but they're getting ready for whatever is thrown their way.
"We're justing going to play as hard as we can and do our role," Thompson said. "If we can help the team we'll do it."
A lot like they've been doing this summer, helping themselves together.
"We're starting our brotherhood right now," Thompson said.
Don't let the term 'open gym' fool you.
The pick-up basketball being played on summer nights on the Tennessee campus isn't just a show-up-and-play atmosphere for the Vols basketball team.
"It's been heated," junior guard Josh Richardson said Wednesday night.
"Every time we play, every time we work out, it's been tough," Richardson said. "We just have to keep working hard."
The combination of Richardson, Armani Moore and Darius Thompson combined for 57 points Wednesday night in a 96-84 Rocky Top League loss at Christian Academy of Knoxville.
Richardson had 35, Moore scored 14 and Thompson had 8.
"After getting beat so bad Monday, I wanted to get the (win)," Richardson said of his team's opening-night 124-99 loss to start the summer league. "Have to wait until next Monday."
Playing in the Rocky Top League isn't quite the same heat that has come with the Vols morning workouts and evening pick-up games.
"Confidence. Just confidence," Richardson said what he takes away from the league. "Come up and get a lot of balls up gives all the players, playing wherever they may be, confidence once they get back to practice and games."
It's just not with quite the same intensity that's been showing up in Tennessee's summer conditioning and pick-up games.
"Everybody has been playing well so far," Richardson said. "We're working hard. I think we'll be alright."