published Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Cuonzo Martin, Tennessee Vols hold kids clinic at Baylor School in Chattanooga

University of Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, right, teaches youngsters how to dribble a basketball on Monday at a basketball camp at the Baylor School gym.
University of Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, right, teaches youngsters how to dribble a basketball on Monday at a basketball camp at the Baylor School gym.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It's unknown whether Cuonzo Martin revised the history concerning the first basketball camp he attended as a player. The University of Tennessee head coach has a story -- and he's sticking to it.

"I didn't have the privilege of going to a camp at a young age, so the first camp I went to was going into my junior year [of high school] at the University of Illinois," he said. "It was a great experience; we played in a 3-on-3 tournament against some players from Chicago. Juwan Howard was on that team, but of course my team won."

The former Purdue standout spoke with a smile and continued to stress that his team -- which included Vince Jackson, who played at Kansas State, and Chris McKinney, who played at Oral Roberts -- "won the game."

Martin, along with his staff and four of his players, were at Baylor School on Monday for the first stop of the Tennessee Volunteers S.H.O.T. clinic. They will be in Nashville, Memphis and Greeneville during the next few weeks.

Baylor coach Austin Clark's son Jordan is a UT student manager.

"It's a great opportunity for Baylor," said Coach Clark, a former Vols standout. "Jordan called and asked if we were interested, and of course we were."

Quinton Chievous, Kenny Hall, Brandon Lopez, Skylar McBee and Rob Murphy were the Vols in attendance.

"This is more for the kids than for us," said Hall, making his first appearance with the team since a midseason suspension. "It's a chance for them to see college players. We're just going to show the kids a good time and hope that this sticks to them for a long time; we don't expect them to be super athletes or do anything crazy.

"We're just here to try and interact, laugh and joke with the kids and give back to the community."

Martin and the Vols put the numerous campers through the different segments of a Tennessee practice, starting with strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher stretching them out. They advanced from station to station learning different skills.

"This is a great chance for us to reach out to the young fans of Chattanooga," Martin said. "They can't always make it to Knoxville, so we felt we'd bring the action to them because they mean so much to the program. The most important thing is that they have fun and remember the experience, whether they become great basketball players or not.

"We'll do some of the same drills today that we'd do in practice."

Martin will spend the month of July recruiting before the Vols travel to Italy in August. A new NCAA rule will allow incoming freshmen to take the trip, which will serve as a team bonding experience for the current players and soon-to-be arriving Derek Reese, Armani Moore and D'Montre Edwards.

"I think it's a great new rule," McBee said. "It's going to help build team chemistry. You bring those guys in, and it's right into the season and we don't have time to jell. They don't know us; we don't know them. Getting them in before the season gives them a chance to play and helps them figure out the way we play."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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