Vols' McRae to return for senior season

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 14, 2013: guard Jordan McRae #52 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the SEC tournament matchup between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (release) -- Tennessee basketball player Jordan McRae announced Saturday that he plans to return to UT for his senior season.

The 6-5 guard from Midway, Ga., had explored the possibility of entering this summer’s NBA Draft and had requested an evaluation from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

“I’m not ready for my experience at Tennessee to be over,” McRae said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of next year’s team, because I think we have a chance to have a great season. I also think there are aspects of my game I can improve by spending another year with my coaches and teammates here at Tennessee.”

Following completion of the 2013 Spring semester, McRae will be 24 credit hours shy of earning his degree in Sociology/Criminal Justice.

After averaging 8.6 points as UT’s sixth man a season ago, McRae emerged this year as a legitimate SEC Player of the Year contender. He averaged 19.2 points during conference play to finish as the league’s third-leading scorer. He earned first-team All-SEC status from both the league’s head coaches and the Associated Press.

McRae finished the season as Tennessee's team leader in scoring (15.7 ppg), minutes played (33.6 mpg), 3-pointers made (60) and attempted (169) and 3-point percentage (.355) while ranking second in assists (2.0 apg), blocks (0.9 bpg) and steals (0.8 spg).

Showcasing his versatility, he played every position but the No. 5 spot, with starts at the 1, 2 and 4 positions.

McRae led the Vols in scoring 15 times, blocks 10 times, steals nine times and assists eight times. He scored at least 25 points six times this season and posted two 30-point outings.

He dropped a career-high 35 points on Georgia in Athens while shooting 8-for-11 from 3-point range.

Three mainstream college basketball experts – ESPN’s Jay Bilas and Jimmy Dykes, along with SI.com’s Seth Davis – selected McRae as their choice for SEC Player of the Year.

“I’m happy that Jordan is coming back, and I also think he was smart to request an evaluation of his draft status after the season he had,” Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “In the two years I’ve been here at Tennessee, I’ve been very impressed with Jordan’s development on and off the court. I think he has a chance to go down as one of the truly special players at UT if he continues to work like he has the past two years.

“Jordan is going to graduate, which is something that’s very important to him and his parents. It’s important to me as well. He’s setting himself up for a great future.”

McRae has improved his scoring, rebounding and assists averages – as well as his field-goal, 3-point and free-throw shooting percentages every year during his Tennessee career.

He is 171 points shy of joining Tennessee’s “1,000-Point Club,” and he will be one of the nation’s top returning offensive threats next season.

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