Scotty Hopson came to Tennessee last season with hopes of becoming an NBA-caliber player. Many thought it would happen after the McDonalds All-American's freshman season, but inconsistency and immaturity made that an impossibility.
Seven games into his sophomore season that pattern is beginning to play out once again.
Against Austin Peay, UNC-Asheville, East Carolina and College of Charleston, Hopson is averaging 22 points per game.
Against DePaul, Purdue and East Tennessee State, that goes down to an alarming seven points per game.
Obviously, the difference in competition makes him a mere mortal.
For a second-year player who had first-year NBA aspirations, that's just not going to get it done.
We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Hopson's game over the past season-plus. Scotty Hopson has the ability to shoot the lights out on a nightly basis, yet his game is too sporadic to count on consistently.
Hopson has the ability to carry this team into uncharted territory. He has more raw talent than just about anyone on the roster. But when will that talent turn into consistency?
Just for comparison's sake, I looked at a four-game stretch from last season in which Hopson showed his inconsistency. From Jan. 24 to Feb. 4 the Vols hosted Memphis, LSU and Florida before playing at Arkansas.
Against Memphis, Hopson scored one point. Against LSU, he scored eight. He blew up against Florida for 20 points. And he followed that up with two at Arkansas. The Vols lost two of those games.
Luckily he doesn't influence the overall record as much as Tyler Smith or Wayne Chism. But a consistent Hopson could mean the difference between a Top 20 team and a Top Five team.
The fact is, if Tennessee wants to join the nation's elite it must have more consistency from arguably its most talented player. Will it happen in '09? Or will this trend continue?
Coach Bruce Pearl and Vols fans everywhere hope Hopson breaks the trend sooner rather than later.