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Volunteers to Bearden; ‘Blevins & Gang’ to UM

Just prior to the Vol march into Bearden High School comes Blevins’ march into Ole Miss.

As the Bruce Pearl-inspired Rocky Top League begins its second season June 16 at BHS — six-team league for UT and other local college talent to hone their skills — Mark Blevins’ BHS Bulldog hoopsters begin operation in Oxford, Miss., in summer league play.

Why Ole Miss? “It’s S-E-C, and you’re trying to get your kids noticed,” Blevins said of the ’Dawgs’ annual trek to Oxford, which began today, Thursday, June 5, through Saturday, June 7. “Down there you’re playing teams from Memphis and all through the state of Mississippi.”

High School summer league play concludes with local games next week. “We’ve got ten days to play, so we just try to play as many games as we can on those ten days,” Blevins said.

Though falling short of the Class AAA state tourney last season, Bearden is poised for huge happenings in 2008-09 based on success through its District 4-AAA Tournament title in February.

Bearden’s 33 wins (33-4 record) was second most in school history, while the program went unbeaten among Knox County opposition for the third time in Blevins’ first 14 seasons in Bulldog Country.

A senior nucleus is back to possibly make it a two-year Knox unbeaten string. Maybe much more. Six-foot-9 post Demonte Simpson, 4-AAA Tournament Most Valuable Player and All-Region 2-AAA honoree, joins wing Gabe Campbell (All-District, All-Region) and forwards Blake Jenkins and Nathan Parker (both All-District league/tourney).

While high school players possibly could be drafted onto a Rocky Top League roster according to Blevins, the BHS skipper isn’t sure whether he’d allow Simpson or any other Bulldog to play, if drafted, upon returning from Oxford.

“I really don’t know if it’s the best idea or not,” Blevins said.

Rocky Top’s two-and-one-half week season ends July 2.

BHS boys hoop success shouldn’t end any time soon.


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