Monthly Archives: June 2014

Vols hoops signee Tariq Owens to arrive Friday


Tariq Owens is on the way.

The Tennessee men’s basketball signee who could not make it to Knoxville for UT’s first summer school session will be on hand as expected for the start of summer session No. 2. Owens father, Renard Owens, told the News Sentinel on Thursday that he and the 6-foot-10 forward will be Knoxville bound by evening. Owens will have a two-day orientation that starts Saturday. His father says he’s “all ready to go.”

Owens is one of three UT signees who have not yet been added to UT’s official roster. While shooting guard Detrick Mostella is enrolled and participating in offseason workouts with the team, his eligibility status has not yet been approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Meanwhile Florida Gulf Coast graduate transfer Eric McKnight is also expected to join the Vols for summer session No. 2. McKnight needed two waivers — one from the NCAA and one from the SEC — in order to transfer to UT after stops at Iowa State and Florida Gulf Coast.

On Tuesday, Tyndall said there is no new information on the status of Mostella and McKnight. He said previously that he expected Mostella to receive clearance from the NCAA by the end of the month. He said he still expects McKnight to enroll as expected. UT’s second summer session starts July 3.

Vols offer 7-foot-5 center; Kevin “Big Sexy” Nash approves


Kevin “Big Sexy” Nash is a well-rounded dude. He can jackknife powerbomb grown men to sleep. Tennessee fans know the former Vol turned wrestler can also hoop. And now he can add recruiter to his list of skills.

According to the Twitter account for Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, the Vols have extended a scholarship offer to 2015 center Tacko Fall, a 7-foot-5 and growing prospect who plays in the Nike AAU circuit when he’s not with his Liberty Christian Prep team in Tavares, Fla.

Here’s the big fella treating the rim like a Little Tikes goal.

OK, one more.

Back to the point.

Here’s why Nash, who ran into Fall at an airport, can tell everyone: “I told you so!” He sent this to the official UT hoops Twitter account on May 3, more than a month before the Vols offered Fall. Nash, by the way, is 6-foot-10.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 1.58.27 AM



Robert Hubbs scratched from RTL, still awaiting clearance

Tennessee men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall says it’s not a setback. But when the Pilot Rocky Top League starts Monday, Robert Hubbs will be sitting out.

“He’s not released yet,” Tyndall said at the league’s draft on Wednesday. “I would think really within the next two or three weeks at the most. But why risk it? We are going to keep him out as long as we need to make sure he is safe and 100 percent.”

Hubbs played in just 12 games as a freshman before season-ending surgery to repair a damaged left labrum shut him down. His operation was Jan. 14. When Tyndall met with the media on June 3, he predicted Hubbs would be cleared for full contact by “mid June or early July.” Hubbs, however, said he hoped to be full-go the following week — in time for Rocky Top League.

Tyndall said Hubbs participates in all the offseason workouts that are closed to the media, stepping out of shooting and skill development drills only when contact is involved. And there’s still a chance Hubbs could be cleared in time to get a few Rocky Top League games under his belt. But the coach made it clear Wednesday there will be no rush.

“The doctor is probably erring on the cautious side, which is what I would want,” Tyndall said. “I know that’s what his family would want. And no offense to the summer league it is certainly more important that he’s healthy for our fall camp.”

Rocky Top League names coaches; draft on Wednesday

RTLThere are 115 days left until the start of college basketball season, but the annual summer battle for bragging rights in Knoxville starts Wednesday night.
The Pilot Rocky Top League, which is open to the public, will hold its draft at 6:30 p.m. at Docs All American Grille. There, coaches will draw numbers and divvy the pool of players between the six teams that will hit the court at Knoxville Catholic on June 16.
You will be able to follow Wednesday’s action on a GoVolsXtra live blog.
Until then, here are the teams and coaches for this year’s league.

Team: Knoxville News Sentinel
Coach: Zane Duncan

Team: Campus Lights
Coach: Brent Watts

Team: Clancy’s Tavern
Coach: Scott Barron

Team: DeRoyal Industries
Coach: Pat Walden

Team: Rice Buick GMC
Coach: Chad Smith

Team: Choice Spine
Coach: Rick Campbell

Q&A: NBA Draft expert Chad Ford talks Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes


If you’re interested in the NBA, you probably know Chad Ford. He’s ESPN’s go-to source for all draft-related info, the man behind the mock drafts. This weekend Ford did Vol fans a solid and took some time from his busy schedule — draft day is June 26 — to focus on UT’s two potential draftees. What will the future hold for Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae? Here are Ford’s thoughts, via an email response to the News Sentinel:

* When Stokes announced he would forego his senior season to enter the draft, he was projected to go in the second round — if it all. Now he’s flirting with the first round according to your mock drafts. Is there a chance he goes round one? What has changed since he declared that boosted his chances?

Ford: I think there’s a good chance Jarnell goes in the first round. He brings a premium NBA skill to the table (rebounding) that typically translates from the NCAA to the NBA. He’s also a darling of the analytics crowd. Most of them have him rated as a Top 10 pick.

* If you can, take me into the head of an NBA executive. Why do I draft Stokes? Why do I pass on him?

Ford: He’s an elite rebounder for his position. That’s the big plus in his favor. He has long arms which off-set his lack of ideal height for the position. He has the strength to carve out position in the paint. He’s actually pretty athletic and would be even more so if he lost some weight. He’s also younger than most of the players in his class which is a good thing when it comes to the draft. If teams pass on him it’s because he’s not yet an elite scorer, he doesn’t have elite size or athletic ability for his position and he’s struggled with conditioning issues in the past.

* You have mentioned in your ESPN chats that NBA folks who are high on analytics are high on Stokes. Can you elaborate on why he appeals to the number lovers?

Ford: His rebounding rate is the thing that sets him apart. There’s a high correlation for players his age that rebound as well as he does.

*We often hear NBA prospects compared to current and former NBA players, both in how they play and how they were able to get into the league and stay there. Name a player(s) that fit that description for Stokes. Who does he remind you of? Whose footsteps should he try to follow?

Ford: Think Paul Millsap. That’s the NBA comparison I hear most often for him.

*While Stokes seems to have helped his chances of being drafted, McRae has fallen off most draft boards. Do you foresee McRae’s name being called? If not, what held him back?

Ford: He’s a bubble second rounder. Like a lot of very good college players — he just doesn’t do any one thing to set himself apart from a host of other very good college players. If he was a better shooter, or a more explosive athlete, or if he racked up more assists or steals. He’s pretty average just about everywhere.

*If McRae goes undrafted, do you like his chances of making a team as an undrafted free agent?

Ford: It’s so hard. He’ll get a look in Summer League and probably make a training camp squad. But the odds are against him. I expect he’ll be in the D-League or Europe next year, even if he squeaks into the second round.

*McRae is 23 years old. Will that hold him back?

Ford: Age is a turn-off. It’s an analytics thing. But the basic idea is that if it takes you until you are 22 or 23 to be great in college, you have an inherent advantage because of your age. It doesn’t mean you suddenly became a better basketball player. It means you were just more experienced than everyone else. Obviously that advantage immediately disappears when you go to the NBA.

2015 PF Travon Bunch, offer in hand, plans to visit UT in August


Travon Bunch hoped the cost of leaving family and friends behind would be worth the reward when he left his hometown (Racine, Wis.) for Mount Zion Christian Academy (Durham,  N.C.) only to relocate again, this time to Georgia Prep Sports Academy (Atlanta).

“It’s always going to he hard,” he told the News Sentinel on Monday. “You learn to live with it because you’re going to that place for a reason.”

For the 6-foot-11, 230-pound power forward who has reclassified to the 2015 class, the reason is a college basketball scholarship. Tennessee assistant Al Pinkins called and offered him one Friday.

“He was a pretty cool dude,” Bunch said of Pinkins. “He wants me to come down and visit, see the campus before a football game.”

Bunch, a three-star prospect according to ESPN and Rivals, considers himself a defense-first big who specializes in “running the floor, rebounding and blocking shots.”

Lately, he’s been hearing from Memphis, Texas A&M, La Salle (offer) and Florida Gulf Coast (offer). He said he plans to visit Knoxville in August.

Vols hoops GPA dips in semester of coaching change — again

Tennessee released its 2014 spring-semester GPA results on Monday, and there was plenty for an athletic department to be proud of.

For the third consecutive semester — and the third consecutive spring semester — UT student athletes’ collective GPA was above 3.0.

For the first time in school history as many as 12 teams notched a GPA of 3.0 or better.

And four sports — baseball, women’s swimming and diving, men’s track and field and women’s track and field — posted program-bests.

But the Tennessee men’s basketball team didn’t have much reason to cheer.

The Vols notched a 2.27 spring-semester GPA. That’s their lowest single-semester GPA since the spring semester of 2011. These semesters have coaching changes in common.

The team turned in a spring-semester GPA of 2.25 after Cuonzo Martin replaced Bruce Pearl in March of 2011. Now the 2.27 comes after new coach Donnie Tyndall replaced California-bound Martin in mid-April.

Combine the 2.27 announced Monday with the team’s 2013 fall-semester GPA of 2.51 and the average for the 2013-14 squad is 2.39. That’s the lowest a Martin-coached UT team has ever had. The 2011-12 team posted a 2.46 GPA. The 2012-13 posted a 2.51.