July 3, 2013

McRae in middle of a big week

Jordan McRae's 51 points weren't quite enough to get his squad over the hump in the Tuesday night's finals of the Rocky Top Pilot league, but the Vols' senior doesn't have much cause for complaint this summer. He's smack in the middle of what has to be considered just about an ideal week for a college basketball player, and even a loss to former teammate Wayne Chism's team in last night's championship couldn't keep him down long.

McRae was one of 20 college wing/forwards to be invited to the Kevin Durant Skills Academy last weekend in Washington D.C. He played well enough in the camp setting to be one of 10 players from the Durant camp to make the cut and be invited to this weekend's Lebron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.

It's a prestigious honor to say the least. McRae is one of just 20 college players invited to take part in the camp, which begins on Friday and runs through Monday.

The event is sponsored by NIKE, and it's a very big deal for college players for several reasons. From a personal standpoint, every kid would love the chance to be able to play with or against James. From a more pragmatic point of view, tons of NBA personnel will be around the camp each day, which gives McRae and other college players a fantastic forum to showcase their skills.

"Last week was great, having a chance to play against Keven Durant, and this week getting to go to do the same thing at Lebron's camp, it's a real blessing," McRae said.

Staring across the lane in a pick-up game and seeing Durant on the other side might be unnerving for some, but not for McRae.

"I wasn't nervous, I just tried to play my game and do what I would normally do," Mcrae said of last weekend's experience. "I didn't think about in terms of scouts being there or anything, I just tried to learn as much as I could and take some of the things they were showing me to work on and get better. It was a great experience."

McRae's on court development last season was perhaps the biggest positive of the entire year for the Vols. He transformed himself from a sixth-man at the start of the season to one of the most capable scorers in the SEC by season's end.

He's hardly satisfied with what he accomplished from a personal standpoint though, and is far more focused on pushing his team further in 2013-14 than in elevating his own standing as an individual.

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