What a day. Tennessee basketball doubled the size of its 2015 signing class Tuesday, thanks to the commitments of point guard Lamonte’ Turner and power forward Ray Kasongo. I crammed as much as I could into tomorrow’s News Sentinel story, but here is some more info that either didn’t make the cut or had to be trimmed down.
- Don’t forget the proper punctuation on the end of Lamonte’. You’ll see it as “Lamonte” online (and in the previous stories I’ve written about him), but he says that’s incorrect.
- Lamonte’ Turner said he is a cousin of Ralston Turner. Remember Ralston? He’s the former NC State guard who hung 33 points on the Vols during the Wolfpack’s win in Raleigh last season. “He actually text me today after I committed,” Lamonte’ Turner said. “He said ‘Congratualtions, man. Ask your teammates. I killed them.'”
He really did.
- There was some confusion surrounding Turner’s commitment. Reports that he would commit to Alabama conflicted with reports that he did not have an official offer from the Crimson Tide. A well-placed Alabama source told Cecil Hurt of he Tuscaloosa News that committing to Alabama wasn’t even an option for Turner. Cecil is nails on the Alabama beat and I don’t doubt his reporting. But Turner refuted the notion that he didn’t have an Alabama offer.
“I do have an Alabama offer,” he said. “I’m guessing they were saying that because they felt they weren’t going to get me.”
Who knows what really happened there. Add some more fuel to the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry.
- The commitment of Turner could help the re-recruitment of Romello White. White, a four-star power forward in the 2016 class, de-committed from the Vols after the Donnie Tyndall-to- Rick Barnes coaching change. Turner said he’s trying to get his teammate at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) back on board.
“I really think it’s a possibility,” Turner said, “With some work we can get him.”
- Kasongo, who averaged six points and 4.9 rebounds at College of Southern Idaho last season, considers himself a stretch four. He says he can shoot the three despite missing the one attempt he took last season.
“I didn’t display it as much,” he admitted. “I’m a really good shot blocker. I like to beat guys off the dribble. I have a really good post game. I’m a physical player. I run up and down the court.”
I’ll wait to see the 3-point prowess, but I’ll buy the shot-blocking. He averaged. 2.2 blocks last season.
- Jerry Meyer, director of basketball scouting with 247Sports, weighed in on both additions. He said both are good gets for UT, based on the remaining options.
“He’s a quick player, very good in open space,” Meyer said of Turner. “Where he needs to get better is building strength and becoming stronger with the ball. He’s loose, wiry and good in space. He has a game built around quickness.”
Meyer said Kasongo is an athletic big man who, thanks to having a junior-college season under his belt, will be able to offer immediate help in the post.
“His athleticism is the main thing,” Meyer said. “He’s strong. He can defend the five man. I would assume he’s going to spend a lot of time battling inside, defending the big men Tennessee plays against. His defense and athleticism is ahead of his offense. Day one, you are going to get a guy who is physical enough. He’s ready to play and not scared. He’s going to defend and battle on the boards. Whatever you get offensively is icing on the cake.”
- Barnes and his staff can’t comment on the commitments until they are signed and through compliance, but the Tennessee basketball Twitter account gave a nod to the two-commitment day tonight.