VIDEO: UT's Tyler Smith to return for junior year

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- The University of Tennessee received some good news from Tyler Smith.

At a news conference this morning, Smith made it official, he's returning for his junior year to play for the Vols.

“For as long as I can remember I have wanted to play in the NBA. Since the end of the season, coach Pearl, my mother and I have sat down to talk about my future. I came to the conclusion that I want to be a Volunteer next year.”

The 6' 7" sophomore averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds a game last year for the Big Orange.

He says he's excited to come back and play for Bruce Pearl and the Vols and continue their great tradition of winning they've experienced since Pearl arrived in town.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank my family, coach (Bruce) Pearl, the rest of the coaching staff, my teammates and especially the Tennessee fans,” Smith said at a news conference in Thompson Boling Arena. “They have made my college experience everything it is supposed to be. I have been blessed with the opportunity to play basketball for this university.

“Tyler came back for a reason,” said Pearl. “A lot of why he came back was because of what he wanted to do individually but also because of what he wanted the team to do. He will be the leader of our team now. This is going to be his team. Chris Lofton was inspirational to us because of how he trained so hard. Tyler will be an inspiration to us because of how hard he works and the type of person he is.”

For several weeks, Smith had been considering declaring for the NBA draft. Some NBA scouts said Smith would have been a first round pick; others said he was a second round selection.

Smith had said he wouldn't declare for the draft unless he was definitely a first round pick.

As of Wednesday afternoon, projected Smith to be the #3 pick of the second round.

Volunteer TV's Wes Boling is in the news conference. He'll have a live report on Volunteer TV News at Noon. You can watch the news conference online by 12:30 p.m.

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