Tatum hopes to give Vols another backcourt weapon

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 1:07am

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee Vols basketball fans didn’t really get a chance to see much of Cameron Tatum last season.

But given an opportunity to showcase his talent on the basketball floor this summer, the UT sophomore-to-be didn’t disappoint.

In the Rocky Top Summer League held at Bearden High School in Knoxville, the guard averaged around 34 points in four games. The league features current and former Vols players. Now he’s hopeful that level of play will carry over to the regular season in 2008-09.

On Monday, though, Tatum officially bowed out of the league. A slightly strained groin suffered after slipping on a wet spot following a dunk on Wednesday forced him to rest.

He’s expected to be healthy in the next couple days.

“I worked out (Monday) morning, and I felt good,” Tatum said. “Then I came (to Bearden), the trainers said don’t rush back. So I have to sit out for the rest of it.”

Still, the Georgia native said his four-game performance should help ease the concern of many Vol fans wondering who is going replace last year’s leading scorers Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.

“I want them to feel confident in me, just like they should feel confident about everybody else on the team,” said Tatum, who was a finalist for the Rocky Top Summer League MVP. “They didn’t get to really see me last year because I kind of got lost in the shuffle as far as players. I wanted to come out and show them that I’m still here.”

Highly touted UT signee Scotty Hopson was also pleased with Tatum’s performances.

“Against our team, he had 40-something points,” Hopson said. “He was very impressive. He stayed consistent throughout.”

Hopson said Tatum’s contributions will be important once UT’s season begins in the fall.

“He brings a lot to the table,” he said. “I know with him, we’ll have a lot of success.”

Tatum, who will likely battle with Hopson, J.P. Prince, Josh Tabb and Renaldo Woolridge for playing time, also acknowledged a lot will be on his shoulders.

“It’s going to be very important for me to do what I’ve got to do for us to get back to where we want to,” he said. “This year, we’re looking for a Final Four. Anything less than a Final Four will be a disappointment.”

Accordingly, Tatum has been in the gym trying to improve his overall game in order to showcase his talent.

“I’ve been working on my defense, passing, getting to the hole,” Tatum said. “It’s just been pretty much my all-around game, instead of just being a shooter.”

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