Crawley: Superb Play Of Vols' JaJuan Smith No Surprise To McMinn Coach

"The Pest'' Has Played Key Role In UT's 16-3 Start

Monday, February 6, 2006 - by Stan Crawley
JaJuan Smith.
JaJuan Smith.
- photo by UT.

Even when JaJuan "The Pest'' Smith was an eighth-grader, he was making folks around Decatur and AThens raise their eyebrows in disbelief while watching his antics on the basketball court.

"He was real skinny, but he was real good,'' said McMinn County's Keith Elliott, who coached Smith in high school ball.

"We were struggling a little his freshman season, so we moved him into the starting lineup,'' Elliott said. "He was our leading scorer the last 10 games that year. From the beginning of his high school career, you good tell he had a lot of skills.''

Smith walked on at Tennessee last year and earned a scholarship. He had limited playing time under coach Buzz Peterson, but has blossomed this year under new UT coach Bruce Pearl as the Vols have raced to a 16-3 start.

Smith, nicknamed "The Pest''by members of the Tennessee radio team due to his aggressive play on defense, is averaging 24.6 minutes-per-game for the Vols. He scored a career high 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting during Saturday's victory over Ole Miss. Smith also had seven rebounds and four steals.

"He is a pest,'' Elliott said. "It's unreal they have T-shirts of him in Knoxville with 'The Pest' written on them.

"It's a good description of him. He always guarded the other team's best offensive player for us. He was our stopper.''

Elliot said Smith was a "tweener'' in high school due to his size, meaning he was recruited mainly by mid-majors like Arkansas State, MTSU and UT-Chattanooga. Tennessee did show some interest, but didn't have a scholarship available at the time.

"We were 17-17 his senior year and he didn't get a lot of tournament exposure,'' Elliott said. "Still, he had three 40-point games, four 30-point games and averaged 22 per game.

"He had his heart set on D-I basketball and UT was a dream for him. He decided walking on was his best option. Really, the fact he wanted to go there so badly may have led some schools to think he wasn't interested in them.''

Smith has put on 15-20 pounds since joining the Vols, and fits perfectly into the Pearl's offensive and defensive schemes.

"His style of play is to get after people,'' Elliott said. "He has long arms, quickness and great anticipation. And under coach Pearl, he has become more than just a shooter. Now, he's driving, rebounding and finishing plays.''

Elliot said he stressed one thing to Smith during his four seasons in Athens -- become a complete player. He never was that at McMinn County, mainly concentrating on shooting three-pointers.

"And now he is starting to develop into that complete player,'' Elliott said. "That's why he is seeing so much significant playing time for the Vols.''

(E-mail Stan Crawley at wscrawley@earthlink.net)


Notre Dame Wrestlers Defeat Signal Mountain, 40-32

The Notre Dame wrestling team is hoping to qualify for the State Duals the first weekend in February and they took a big step in that direction with a 40-32 win over Signal Mountain Tuesday night at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish benefitted from five pins, including one from 220-pound Jacob Brigman in 1:04 that was the quickest of the match.  Others came from Ned Warwick, ... (click for more)

32 Mocs On Fall Academic All-Southern Conference Team

  The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga put 32 student-athletes on the Fall Academic All-Southern Conference team, the league office announced today.  These individual were honored for excelling in the classroom, as well as their performance on the field.  The fall team is made up of representatives from cross country, football, soccer and volleyball.  ... (click for more)

Sheriff Deputies Involved In Shooting After Pursuit Tuesday Night In Soddy Daisy

An officer-involved shooting took place in Soddy Daisy on Tuesday night following "an ongoing pursuit which originated earlier in the evening." The shooting incident happened around 7 p.m. The chase started shortly after 5 p.m. Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies were involved in the shooting. The Sheriff's Office said m ultiple law enforcement agencies responded ... (click for more)

City Council Told Cost Has Soared For Moving Sewer Line Off Tubman Industrial Site

City Council members were told on Tuesday that the cost has soared for moving a sewer line completely off the Harriet Tubman industrial site. Bill Payne, city engineer, said it initially was around $1.5 million, but is now pegged at over $4 million. Councilman Chris Anderson, who heads the council's economic development committee, said the assertion brought "stunned looks" ... (click for more)

Beyond Freedom Of Speech - And Response

Yes, most people know about the First Amendment to our Constitution, "The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction."  I being a "deplorable" draw the line when people block traffic, try to disrupt, and even stop an activity through malice and disregard for others. Case being ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Want To Protest? Get Paid!

In a troubling time when “false news” is the rage and people ask me – to my face – if anybody from Russia ever approached me personally searching for votes for President-elect Donald Trump, there appears a website that, to cop a phrase, “is too good to be true.” There is a group out of California that allegedly wants to hire “operatives” to protest Friday’s inauguration. Forget ... (click for more)