published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Freshman Gee McGhee a force for UTC

Gee McGhee heard the question in various forms several times about whether he could be on the Southern Conference all-freshman team, or even, freshman of the year.

He took to Twitter to give his answer.

“It would be an honor to get the freshman of the year award, but if not, it’s not [going to] stop me from grinding — just thank God and move on!” he wrote the social media site.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman has two games remaining in the regular season to state his case, beginning tonight at 7 at Western Carolina (12-17, 8-8 SoCon) and then Saturday at Appalachian State.

“People have been asking if I’m in the race and blah, blah, blah, but I’ve been having great games lately,” McGhee said before practice Wednesday. “I don’t know how [voting] goes, but if I don’t get it, I’m going to keep working, stay humble and keep after it.

“But if I do get it, it would be a great honor.”

McGhee, a 6-foot-5 guard, is certainly a candidate for freshman awards. That is secondary in his mind behind the fact that UTC (12-17, 7-9 SoCon) has an outside chance to earn a SoCon tournament bye with two victories and Samford losing its two games.

“I’m not focused on individual awards,” McGhee said. “I’m going to do what I can for my team.”

He averages 14.8 points in SoCon games which ranks him in the top 10. He also shoots 37.3 percent from the arc and averages 4.7 rebounds against SoCon competition. McGhee, from Baton Rouge, La., has scored at least 12 points in 11 straight games.

“Where would we be without Gee?” UTC coach John Shulman said. “We’ve got two games to go, and we’re already ahead of last year’s win total.”

Opposing SoCon coaches have noticed McGhee’s improvement and impact on the Mocs.

“He’s a tough guard, and his size gives other guards problems,” said Samford coach Bennie Seltzer, who saw McGhee score 41 points against the Bulldogs in two games. “He’s given us problems. He does a little bit of everything and is very talented.”

In February, McGhee is shooting 50 percent from the floor, 37.9 percent from the 3-point line, 71.4 percent from the free-throw line and averaging 17.6 points and 5.5 rebounds.

“The best freshman in the league may be in Chattanooga,” Georgia Southern coach Charlton Young said. “I think McGhee is special. He’s very confident, really shoots it and has a presence about him.”

The Mocs have not had a player selected to the SoCon all-freshman team since Alphonso Pugh represented UTC in 2003 when Shulman assisted former head coach Jeff Lebo.

“We’ve never really played freshmen,” Shulman said. “I think he deserves to be on the team, but there are a lot of freshmen that are having really good years.”

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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