UK Men's Basketball

Ex-UHA star Hopson passes first test with Vols

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An elbow from Tennessee veteran Tyler Smith served as a welcome-to-college moment for Kentuckian Scotty Hopson.

"We were playing in our Rocky Top Summer League," Smith explained at the Southeastern Conference Media Days on Wednesday. "With him coming in as a high school All-America, I wanted to show him, hey, this is college now."

Hopson, a star at University Heights, passed Smith's test.

"He didn't back down," Smith said. "That's what made me really respect him. ... I was doing that to see how he'd respond. By him coming back at me just as hard, it was great.

"He has really accepted my leadership. ... We went at it pretty good, and we really got closer. We started hanging out a lot more, just talking."

Tennessee expects Hopson to contribute as a freshman. "He's one of those players that comes in and you know he's going to have an immediate impact on your program," Smith said. " ... He looks like he's really not trying that hard because he's so smooth with it."

Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl noted Hopson's physical development and the strides the player has made emotionally.

"He's grown up a lot," Pearl said. "I watched him play three years ago, and he was just young and immature and emotional, and subject to a hissy fit every now and then.

"Then I saw him last year as a senior, and he just handled everything better."

Change in technical fouls

Gerald Boudreaux, the SEC's supervisor of officials, explained how there will be two classifications of technical fouls this season:

■ Class A, which involves more serious infractions like flagrant contact, disrespecting a referee, cursing, a player leaving the bench to join a fight.

■ Class B, which involves non-contact infractions like the goal-tending of a free throw, a player not reporting to the scorer's table before entering a game or not replacing a player's who's fouled out within 20 seconds.

The public address announcer is supposed to tell the crowd whether a Class A or B technical was assessed.

A coach or player can be ejected if he receives two Class A technicals, one flagrant technical, one Class A and two Class B technicals or three Class B technicals.

Other rule changes

Boudreaux noted other changes, which included requiring a six-foot space cleared beyond each end line.

For instance, no cheerleaders nor photographers will be allowed within six feet of the end line. An exception will be made for TV cameramen who are stationed at the basket support.

Goaltending will be called any time a shot is above the rim after hitting the backboard. There used to be a judgment concerning whether the ball was still going upward.

Points of emphasis (or areas the referees want to be strict) include palming (for a fourth straight season), coaches' behavior and block/charge calls near the basket.

SEC expands exposure

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive noted how the new television contract moves the league toward its goal of greatly improving exposure of basketball nationally.

The new 15-year deal, which begins in the 2009-10 season, triples the number of games per week on a ESPN or ABC channel. There will be games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays each week.

The SEC Tournament semifinals and finals will move to ABC.

Telecasts of women's games will double.