Monthly Archives: May 2014

Motlow State PG Dequon Miller to visit Tennessee after Vols offer

Dequon Miller made a splash as freshman at Motlow State Community College last season. Big enough that the 5-foot-10 point guard nearly played his way out of the junior-college ranks.

Memphis, Missouri and NC State were among those interested in signing the honorable mention junior college All-American to their 2014 class. Then the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled he wouldn’t qualify. Now Tennessee hopes to land him for 2015.

“I talked to Coach Tyndall,” Miller told the News Sentinel on Friday. “He said he is going to grab one juco point guard and one high school point guard.”

“I’m the only junior college point guard they’ve offered right now. So, that’s pretty exciting.”

Miller said the Vols offered him a scholarship on Wednesday. He plans on taking an unofficial visit to Knoxville on June 4.

The undersized point man originally from Charleston, West Virginia, averaged 20.7 points and 7 assists and 1.9 steals last season. He shot 47.8 percent from the field, 43.6 percent from 3-point range and 82.9 percent from the free-throw line. During a prep-school season (2012-13) at Shooting 4 Greatness Academy in Raleigh, N.C., he averaged 28 points, eight assists and three steals.

Miller said Missouri, Memphis and NC state have all maintained interest since he realized he would have to return to Motlow. He’s also being recruited by Valparaiso, Mercer and East Tennessee State.

“It wasn’t disappointing at all,” he said of the delay. “I felt like I was in a win-win situation regardless. I like it down here at Motlow, so I didn’t mind coming back to work on my game, getting better smarter and stronger as a point guard.”

Double alley oop dunk features two 2016 prospects with Tennessee offers

 

So, this happened on Sunday.

Nice dunk. But why is it relevant to the Tennessee men’s basketball team? Both of the the players in the highlight have a scholarship offer from the Vols.

Meet Tyree Crump (lob provider) and Jordan Harris (lob finisher), two 2016 prospects who nearly shut down the gym while playing for Tallahassee-based AAU team Showtime Hoops during last weekend’s Nike Memorial Day Classic in Atlanta.

Crump (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) is a four-star prospect according to 247Sports. The scouting service ranks the Bainbridge, Georgia (Bainbridge High School) native No. 29 in the 2016 class, No. 4 at his position (combo guard) and No. 2 in the state of Georgia. His 247Sports profile lists offers from Florida State and Georgia. Tennessee offered him about a week after UT coach Donnie Tyndall and his staff took over in Knoxville. When it comes to Crump, the Vols have an advantage in UT signee and Bainbridge native Devon Baulkman. Showtime Hoops coach and co-director Darryl Hardin said Crump “looks up to Baulkman as his big brother.”

Harris (6-foot-5, 175 pounds) is currently unranked on 247Sports, but the high-flying lefty from Iron City, Georgia (Seminole County High School) told the News Sentinel he holds offers from Florida State, Georgia and Mississippi State. He said UT assistant Al Pinkins is spearheading his recruitment, and that the Vols offered May 18.

These soon-to-be high school juniors have plenty of time left to decide where they will go to college, but UT is already trying to convince them to head to Knoxville.

Tyndall on McKnight: “I’ve given many kids second chances in the past”

mcknight imageOn Friday, Tennessee men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall walked the News Sentinel through the eight-player signing class he and his staff secured during their first month on the job.

While the following quotes didn’t fit into the story that ran in print on Sunday, I wanted to share Tyndall’s full comments on Florida Gulf Coast graduate transfer Eric McKnight since they provide some insight to the coach’s recruiting approach when it comes to prospects who have encountered some, well, turbulence.

After McKnight committed to UT on May 12, Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley told the Naples Daily News that the high-flying forward was actually kicked off the team because he had once again violated an undisclosed team rule. This was the third time McKnight had been linked to a rule violation at the school. He had missed 12 game to start the season and sat out an early-season tournament in 2012-13 due to similarly vague violations.

“He violated team policies, so he couldn’t come back,” Dooley told the newspaper. “He knew what the parameters were and so did we.”

Tyndall, however, said he wasn’t aware McKnight’s most recent violation before McKnight committed.

“I didn’t know anything about the fact that he had been dismissed,” Tyndall said Friday. “We knew he was suspended early in the year. I didn’t know until the coach made those comments that he was dismissed. We knew he was going to graduate and look to transfer for his senior year. I talked to two assistants on that staff that said nothing but good things about him. When we got in contact with him it was us or Wichita State. He visited our place and said he always wanted to be in the SEC and grew up a Tennessee follower, and we got it done.”

Tyndall had done some investigating into McKnight’s previous suspensions, though.

“His problem or his past was very small and minor,” Tyndall said. “It wasn’t like he was accused or charged with a felony. It wasn’t like he had spent time in prison. And I don’t want to make light of what happened but the bottom line is, I’ve given many kids second chances in the past. One thing you will find out about me is, I’m a young guy but an old school coach. These guys, they will go to class. They act the right way. They represent our university. They will play as hard as any team you’ve ever seen play in this building. Or they’re not part of it. Period.”

“I was very point-blank, matter-of-fact with Eric that these will be our expectations. These will be my expectations. We are going to hold you accountable for everything you do. If you don’t want to be part of it then don’t come. Don’t come. That’s how I handle everybody. He was fine. He admitted he made mistakes. He didn’t hide from it. He didn’t make excuses for it. He’s excited to have this opportunity. He knows if he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do it will be short-lived.”

Tyndall hopes Mostella eligibility question answered by late June

The NCAA provides no concrete timetable for when it will or won’t sign off on a player’s eligibility, but Donnie Tyndall has a tentative deadline in mind when it comes to Detrick Mostella.

“I’m hopeful we will know at the end of June at the latest,” the Tennessee men’s basketball coach told the News Sentinel on Friday.

Mostella, who Tyndall said will enroll in summer school with the rest of the incoming signees, made ripples when he picked UT in early May.

One because the 6-foot-3, 170-pound combo guard originally from Decatur, Ala., has an upside that made him one of the more intriguing prospects available as the signing deadline loomed. According to 247Sports, the four-star was rated No. 43 in the class of 2013.

Two because Tyndall hadn’t yet been in Knoxville for three weeks when Mostella inked.

And three because two previous teams also thought they had Mostella in the bag.

Mostella first signed with Oklahoma State in 2012. He changed his mind and was released from his National Letter of Intent. He then committed to Pittsburgh, but eligibility issues blocked him from enrolling. Instead he played for Notre Dame Preparatory in Massachusetts.

Mostella told the News Sentinel after he signed with UT that he has ironed out the NCAA’s issue(s) with his transcripts by taking online classes. He said his recruitment opened up again because the Pittsburgh assistant who recruited him (Barry ‘Slice’ Rohrssen) relocated to Kentucky.

That opened the door for Tyndall.

Before Mostella transferred from Austin High School in Decatur to La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) for his senior season, he wowed college coaches on the AAU circuit while playing for the Southeast Elite program based in Huntsville. Tyndall previously developed a relationship with Southeast Elite director Mark Komara and other members of the organization thanks to stints as an LSU assistant (1997-2001) and Middle Tennessee associate head coach (2002-06).

“We had seen him (Mostella) play a couple of years ago and knew he was a heck of a player,” Tyndall said. “Really, his people called me and said, ‘Look, the coach that recruited him at Pitt just left. He may not be comfortable going there. Would you have interest?’ So we jumped right on it and got him to campus for an unofficial visit. He has always wanted to play in the SEC. It just kind of worked  out.”

As long, of course, as the NCAA approves.

Twitter Q/A: Keeping up with Donnie Tyndall’s roster

 

My attempt to answer all of your Twitter questions in a space that provides more than 140 characters. Because brevity is for the birds.

Do you think Thompson will stay? (via @DFSportsFan)

As of Wednesday evening Thompson had not ruled out a return to Tennessee. That said, it’s rare that a player requests a release then stays. Remember, Robert Hubbs never requested a release. He only considered asking for one. Thompson crossed that bridge. He also visited Purdue (here’s more on that visit) this week and plans to visit Virginia this weekend. At this point I think it’s more likely that Thompson goes than returns. But he hasn’t shut the door on UT. If he knew for sure he was gone, why wouldn’t he say so?

Was Thompson decision solely his decision or mutual decision? (via @TheRockytopman)

It was his decision. Tyndall said he hopes Darius returns, and I believe that. UT could use his help.

Is Tariq Owens still visiting this weekend? Or does Carmichael take his spot? (via @AndyAdams_)

Tariq Owens’ official visit to UT is still on as planned. Owens and his father will arrive in Knoxville on Thursday and leave Friday. They would stay for two nights but want to be back home in time for Tariq’s high school prom. Carmichael signing with UT didn’t impact Owens’ interest in the Vols. While Carmichael announced he was headed to UT on Tuesday night he had signed scholarship papers by last Friday. UT’s staff didn’t stop pursuing Owens then and it won’t now.

So, if Vols get Owens and Carmichael how many spots does that leave assuming Thompson is gone? (via @Risetotop13)

Right now UT has one scholarship spot left. It could go to Owens. It could go to Thompson. But as things stand there isn’t room for both. Another departure would change things. If it happens UT could bring back Thompson and sign Owens — or add any other two-player combo.

When we will know if Mostella clears? (via @bradthevo)

Mostella said he thought it would be two or three days after he signed. Others have said four to six weeks. The NCAA doesn’t provide a deadline, which means everyone waits.

Do you think there is any chance that Detrick Mostella doesn’t get cleared? He’s our biggest get, and that would be a big blow. (via @BlakeBallinger2)

Mostella said he fixed the academic snags that kept him from qualifying at Pittsburgh, and UT is optimistic that Mostella’s paperwork will be approved. But is there a chance he doesn’t get cleared? Sure. Any time the NCAA Clearinghouse is involved, there is a chance. I think UT will fight for Mostella’s eligibility if it doesn’t get the verdict it expects to receive.

Any idea if GT’s Robert Carter Jr. is considering Vols? Former teammate of McGhee (via @Cvarner24)

A lot of schools are interested in Carter. I’m not sure which schools he is interested in. Hope to have a better answer for you soon.

Have questions? Send them to @Ben_Fred

 

Recruiting Update: Tariq Owens to visit Vols this week

 

This weekend the Tennessee men’s basketball team saw some potential frontcourt help head to Florida State.

Released signee Philip Cofer had the Vols in his list of finalists but pledged to play for the Seminoles. He signed scholarship papers while on an official visit to Tallahassee, according to his father, Michael Cofer.

That news makes an upcoming visitor — Tariq Owens — even more important.

The 2014 power forward who was released from a National Letter of Intent at Ohio will take an official visit to UT’s campus on Thursday and Friday, according to his father.

“They definitely have a need for his skill set and what he can do,” Renard Owens told the News Sentinel on Monday. “They are showing they are interested, and they would like for him to come.”

Renard Owens and his son also plan to visit UT Martin and Dayton before making a decision.

Other schools in play — ones the father and son have visited previously — include Temple and Seton Hall.

Another frontcourt target to track is Florida Gulf Coast transfer Eric McKnight. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported the 6-foot-9 forward plans to visit UT and Wichita State. He has one year of eligibility left and is expected to be able to play immediately. Read more about McKnight here.

Reports: Graduate transfer Chiles to visit Vols, two more transfers to watch

 

IUPUI transfer Ian Chiles will visit Tennessee this week and Maryland the following week, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

Goodman says the 6-1, 200-pound guard plans to pick between the Vols, Maryland and Auburn.

Chiles, a graduate transfer, will be able to use his final season of eligibility immediately.

He averaged 15.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists for a down-and-out IUPUI team that finished 6-26, 1-13 in the Summit League.

Chiles shot 41.9 percent from the field, 31.4 from 3-point range and 67.7 percent from the free-throw line.

According to Hoop-Math.com, Chiles’ shot selection as a senior broke down like this: 2-point jumpers (39.6 percent); dunks and or layups (30.9 percent); and 3-point field goals (29.5 percent).

The Louisville native arrived at IUPUI after he spent a freshman season at Wabash Valley Junior College in Mt Carmel, Ill. He averaged 10.5 points, 1.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds in his first season at IUPUI, shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point range. He only played in four games as a junior and received a medical redshirt due to an injury.

This is the second time Goodman has linked Chiles’ name to UT. He previously reported Chiles was interested in checking out the Vols, Maryland, Auburn, South Florida and Western Kentucky.

Chiles wasn’t the only name Goodman tied to UT on Saturday.

He reported Oregon State transfer Hallice Cooke, who was currently on a visit to Iowa State, is also considering the Vols, Rutgers, St. Joes and Creighton.

He also reported Florida Gulf Coast transfer Eric McKnight has received interest from the Vols, Wichita State, Memphis, Boston College and Rutgers.

Cooke (6-3, 185) averaged 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a freshman guard at Oregon State. He averaged 26.3 minutes, 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

He shot 45.9 percent from the floor, 45.6 percent from 3-point range and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line. Cooke will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after he sits out a season due to NCAA transfer rules.

McKnight (6-9, 210) averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds as a junior forward at Florida Gulf Coast. He served a 12-game suspension to start the season. The reason for the suspension was never publicly explained.

This would be McKnight’s third transfer. He transferred to Florida Gulf Coast after playing sparingly as an Iowa State freshman. Florida Gulf Coast announced in April that McKnight planned to graduate with a communications degree in May and pursue a professional career. That plan appears to have changed.

Another note:

State Fair Community College guard Kevin Punter, who is currently on an official visit to UT, is expected to meet with Missouri coach Kim Anderson on Monday, State Fair coach Kevin Thomas told the News Sentinel on Saturday.

If that stands Missouri will likely get to make the final pitch to Punter before the soon-to-be junior picks between the Tigers and Vols.

Punter said previously he wants to make his decision before he graduates from State Fair on May 16.

Vols in mix for released Ohio signee Tariq Owens

 

The Tennessee men’s basketball staff has inquired about a forward whom Ohio recently released from a National Letter of Intent.

“There’s some interest,” Renard Owens, father of Tariq Owens, told the News Sentinel on Friday evening. “If the schedule works out so we can take a visit, we will.”

According to Renard Owens, UT coaches contacted his son’s AAU team (Under Armour B’more’s Finest) and inquired about Tariq Owens. The thin big man with plenty of potential just finished a prep season at Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore. Now that he’s out of his NLI, plenty of teams are poking around.

While Tariq Owens is listed as 6-foot-9, his dad swears he’s now a half-inch shy of 6-foot-11. He’s a three-star recruit according to 247Sports, the 29th-best forward in the 2014 class and the sixth-best player in Maryland. Meanwhile Scout.com gave him four stars and a top-100 spot (No. 99) on its list of 2014 prospects.

After he signed with Ohio in November of 2013, Tariq Owens ran into some friction. He asked to be released from his NLI around the time Ohio head coach Jim Christian bolted for Boston College. Ohio delayed the process before caving last week. Since, father and son have explored their options.

On Friday there was on an unofficial visit to Temple. On May 9 there will be an unofficial visit to Seton Hall. An official visit to Tennessee-Martin is scheduled for May 13.

“Whether it’s a big school or a small school, it really doesn’t matter to him,” Renard Owens said. “It’s always been about where he’s comfortable, where he fits.”

Might UT be a stop the two make while in Tennessee?

It’s not on the schedule yet. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

“They’ve showed some interest,” Renard Owens repeated. “We just got started. It’s only been a week. It’s still early in the process.”

Southern Miss signee Willie Carmichael requests release, eyes Tennessee

 

The six-man signing class new UT coach Donnie Tyndall left behind at Southern Miss is expected to lose a player soon.

Willie Carmichael, forward from Wekiva High School in Apopka, Fla., confirmed to the News Sentinel on Friday that he completed the online paperwork necessary to be released from his National Letter of Intent.

Carmichael (6-7, 195) said new Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler agreed to grant the release.

“He said he wouldn’t like to be held back if he was in my position,” Carmichael said.

For Tennessee fans, the obvious question is this: could Carmichael — along with any other potential Southern Miss defections — be added to a UT roster that is all too familiar with see-you-later signees.

Former UT coach Cuonzo Martin’s four signees were released when Tyndall came on board, and only one (forward Philip Cofer) has shown an interest in being re-recruited by the Vols.

Carmichael wouldn’t mind wearing orange.

“That would be first on my list if it’s possible,” he said of potentially following Tyndall to UT. “But I’m waiting to get released so I can talk to other coaches again.”

Carmichael also floated the idea of a package deal. He said he is close with point guard Rasham Suarez, a Southern Miss signee who just finished his sophomore season at the College of Central Florida, an Ocala-based JuCo. While Carmichael said Suarez (6-3, 205) has not made up his mind about his future, the two have at least discussed the possibility of making a jump together.

Carmichael said he might investigate prep school options if he can’t play with Suarez. He also said he isn’t closing the door on being re-recruited by Sadler and Southern Miss. So, things are fluid.

Carmichael is a three-star recruit according to 247Sports’ composite ranking. The scouting system ranks him 25th among Florida prospects in the 2014 class. His offer list at the time he signed with Southern Miss, according to 247Sports, consisted of Cincinnati, Jacksonville, James Madison, Murray State, Stetson, Tulsa and Wichita State.

This is what Tyndall had to say about Carmichael in a Southern Miss press release after Carmichael signed on Nov. 21, 2013:

“Willie is a long, athletic, front-line player. He can play a couple different positions. He’s a great athlete who plays with a high motor. He reminds me of a young Kenneth Faried, in that he plays extremely hard. He runs the floor and is not afraid to compete at the highest level.”

Suarez is unranked by 247Sports. His offer list when he signed with Southern Miss included Butler, Middle Tennessee State and North Texas.

According to his Central Florida profile, Suarez averaged 14.9 points and five assists as a sophomore while shooting 35.2 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from the 3-point line.

The native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, helped lead Central Florida to the NJCAA national championship as a freshman. Previously, he played for a Findlay Prep team that won a national championship before he transferred to Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, Ga.), where he graduated.

Here’s what Tyndall had to say about Suarez when he signed at Southern Miss:

“Rasham is a proven winner. He’s won a high school state title, a prep school national title and he won a national championship last year in junior college. In my opinion, he’s the best point guard in all of junior college. He’s a guy who is tough. He has great size for the point guard position. He can shoot it, he can go to the foul line. But, most importantly, Rasham is a guy who is about winning. He’s my type of guy.”

These are two names to keep track of as Tyndall works agains the clock — spring signing period ends May 21 — to patch a roster.

The rest of the Southern Miss signees can be found here.