Mocs' freshman Gee McGhee grows up fast - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mocs' freshman Gee McGhee grows up fast

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- John Shulman knows exactly what a team can expect when it relies heavily on freshman.

"You struggle," the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach said Tuesday.

The Mocs' 8-14 record is proof of that.

Four freshman have seen extended time on the floor this year for UTC, led by guard Gee McGhee. In fact, the Louisiana native has played more than anyone else on the roster.

"I guess you could say I'm a little tired, but not really," McGhee said. "In practice, I'm tired. Laying down in the bed, I'm tired. But being out there on the court, it's a different thing."

The "freshman wall" is not a myth.

Adjusting to the grind of college athletics, college classes and living on your own can be exhausting and overwhelming for many first-year players, resulting in a drop-off on the court late in the year.

But not for McGhee.

The 6-foot-5 swingman actually seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on.

"Coach Shulman told me I'm not a freshman anymore, so I took it into consideration," he said.

McGhee has scored in double figures in four straight games, stepping into more of a leadership role after a career-ending injury to senior guard Dontay Hampton. Twice in that span McGhee has tied his career-high of 19 points, which he set early in the season against Louisiana Tech.

"He's a tough character. He's grown up with that responsibility," Shulman said. "He still makes goofy mistakes, but I'll tell you this, he hasn't hit the wall and he's not planning to hit the wall."

It would be understandable if he did, considering he's logged 54 more minutes than any of his teammates. McGhee has started all 22 games of his freshman season, ranking second on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game in a team-high 29.4 minutes per contest.

"Sometimes it doesn't feel like that many minutes," McGhee said. "I just need a couple minutes break to catch myself."

Shulman says McGhee has earned every minute he plays. His non-stop work ethic started as soon as he stepped foot on campus, and only increased after his fellow freshman and Louisiana native Casey Jones went down with an injury.

Still, the veteran coach knows McGhee's load is one that should be carried by an upperclassman.

"He's being asked to do too much, but we knew on the front end that we'd probably have to do that," Shulman said. "He wants to win, but more than that, he's mentally tough."

That toughness is a product of McGhee's family, which Shulman described as "rock solid." He was coached by his father in high school and AAU ball, and was taught at an early age to always strive to be better.

"Being tough, it's just because I take pride in what I do," said McGhee. "When I feel like I want to be the best at something, I chase that with the best of my ability."

If only Shulman had a few more guys like him.

"Why cant everyone play as hard as Gee? Why cant everyone want to win like him? It's just how people are wired," Shulman said. "You put ten of him out there, you'd have a pretty good basketball team."

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