Cameron Tatum/utdailybeacon.comBy Paul Seaver (TheArenaPulse)
This past off-season was highly documented for the Tennessee Volunteers and their athletic organization.
With the dismissal of head coach Bruce Pearl
and the decision to bring in former Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin
, the Vols will have a new-look and new-feel in 2011-12.
As Tennessee looks to move forward from their tainted past, Martin will turn to senior Cameron Tatum
, who will be in search of making his final season in Knoxville a memorable one.
Tatum, a 6-foot-7 forward, returns to Tennessee for his senior season as the team's leading scorer, rebounder, and passer in comparison with last year's statistics.
Tatum averaged 8.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per contest in 2010-11, and as the program moves forward with a number of losses from last year's roster, Tatum will look to emerge as the group's leader this upcoming season.
Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris, the team's leading scorers from a year ago both made the early leap to the NBA, while the graduations of Melvin Goins, Brian Williams, and Josh Bone give coach Martin a roster in which Tatum is the only top-six returning scorer from 2010-11.Renaldo Woodridge
joins Tatum as the only other senior for Tennessee this season, as Martin will face the challenge of transitioning a young roster into the SEC in his first season at the school.Trae Golden
(So.) and Skylar McBee
(Jr.) also returns for the Vols, yet the team's ability to provide effectiveness in 2011-12 will hinge on Tatum's ability to improve as a contributor and emerge as a veteran.
Although expectations are not high in Knoxville in Martin's first season, the process of rebuilding the Tennessee program is certainly underway. A six-man freshman class highlighted by 6-foot-5 forward Josh Richardson
will look to help ease the transition.
A native of Georgia, Tatum appeared in seven game as a freshman for the Volunteers back in 2007-08. Tatum struggled with knee issues as a freshman, eventually redshirting. The additional season of eligibility gives Tatum the opportunity to return to the Tennessee program this season.
Tatum has been a contributor for the Vols in each season since, finishing with career highs in many statistical categories last season as a redshirt junior.
While Tennessee will look to their youth in terms of consistency, Tatum's leadership ability could play a major role in acquiring a sense of confidence.
As the go-to-guy, Tatum will look to make his final season in a Vols' uniform a special one, yet only time will tell if the forward will be able to match a growing level of hype heading into this year.
*Photo: Cameron Tatum *Credit: utdailybeacon.com
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