Last season, the Tennessee Volunteers found their way to the Sweet Sixteen thanks in part to the leadership of senior guard Jordan McRae. McRae is something of a jack-of-all-trades player and, as a result, finds himself quite booked up on the workout circuit. As McRae told Hoops Rumors earlier today, he has already auditioned for the Heat, Bulls, Pistons, and 76ers with workouts for nine other clubs ahead of him.
The Chicago workout called for him to play 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 in different combinations against the likes of C.J. Fair, Rodney Hood, and Devyn Marble. After a strong showing, McRae got yet another reaffirmation of his abilities and he’s feeling confident as the draft approaches.
With a 7-foot wingspan at 6’5″, McRae was born to be a boxer or a stout perimeter defender. Fortunately for hoops fans, and for cruiserweights, he went with the latter. Over the last couple of years, McRae has learned to use his size to his advantage, disrupting passing lanes on defense and easily scoring over airborne opponents on the other end.
“With my long arms, I don’t really have to press up close on the man I’m guarding, I can give him some space and still hold him off,” McRae told HoopsRumors. “I’m always able to recover thanks to my length, so that’s a major luxury that I have.”
McRae was the Volunteers’ leading scorer last season, putting up 18.7 PPG, a few ahead of first-round prospect Jarnell Stokes. The senior is quick to point out that he got it done with a varied attack. Slashing to the rim is his strong suit, but he also did well with his jumper, save for a March slump that watered down the averages.
McRae was asked to call his own number early and often at UT but when he dished the ball, particularly last season, he showed strong instincts and solid court vision. That’s something he attributes to his junior year experience of playing out of position at point guard against tough SEC competition. After a year of running his college team’s offense, he was able to use that experience to make himself an even more well-rounded two guard. In fact, if he’s asked to cover some minutes as a third point guard for an NBA team, he’s confident that he can rise to the challenge.
“I definitely think that I can [play point guard]. I’m going to keep working hard on the one guard skills like ball-handling and passing while also watching film, but I definitely think that I can do it,” McRae said.
The guard will be spending a lot of time in the film room, but you can expect him to put in equal hours in the weight room and cafeteria. The 6’5″ guard currently weighs in at a wiry 179 pounds and he says that he intends on putting on 15-20 pounds between now and the start of the season. While his slender frame has allowed him to be aerodynamic in going up and down the floor, McRae knows that he’ll have to tack on mass in order to drive to the basket against 260 pound centers and withstand an 82-game season.
Even in his current svelte state, McRae has collided with first-round hopefuls at workouts and still managed to come out looking sharp. McRae figures to get his name called in the early-to-middle portion of the second round and plans on making an instant impact for the club that drafts him.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.