Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tennessee basketball freshmen receive jersey numbers


The Tennessee men’s basketball team’s roster has been updated to include incoming freshmen, which means we now know the numbers the new guys will wear. The digits:

No. 1 — Lamonte’ Turner (6-2, 180)

No. 2 — Ray Kasongo (6-9, 235)

No. 5 — Admiral Schofield (6-6, 220)

No. 11 — Kyle Alexander (6-10, 200)

No. 25 — Shembari Phillips (6-4, 185)

Three-star 2015 small forward Dikembe Dixson to visit Vols

Monday Update: Dikembe Dixson did not arrive for an official visit Monday. His father, Sam Dixson, told the News Sentinel in a phone interview on Monday afternoon that he expects his son’s visit to be rescheduled for later this week.

Dikembe Dixson, a three-star small forward in the 2015 class, has a Tennessee offer and plans to visit Knoxville next week.

The 6-foot-7, 190-pound Dixson announced on Twitter on Friday night that he is now considering Tennessee along with Mississippi State and Alabama.

A strong push from Tennessee has moved the Vols into the picture as of late, according to Brad Napier, head coach at Mingo Central High School in Matewan, West Virginia.

“I know he was talking to (Vols) coach (Rick) Barnes tonight,” Napier said late Friday night. “They are planning to bring him in for an official visit.”

That visit is scheduled for Monday (May 18).

Napier said Barnes’ staff, specifically associate head coach Rob Lanier, established a relationship with Dixson while at Texas. That interest intensified this week.

Napier said Dixson visited Alabama last week and has a visit to Mississippi State scheduled later this week. He said Arkansas had been in the picture but isn’t any longer.

“He really liked Alabama last weekend,” Napier said. “He’s really excited about Tennessee now that it has come into the picture here lately. He had a good relationship with the staff when they were at Texas.”

Napier said Dixson averaged 22 points and 10.5 rebounds as a senior this season. He describes him as a “very athletic” player who excels in transition.

“He’s just an elite athlete,” Napier said. “He can shoot it. He as a really nice stroke. He is just all-around a good player. He needs to get in the weight room a bit, get a little stronger and fine tune his skills.”

Napier said Dixson originally planned to sign on May 26, but that date could be pushed back due to his new interest in the Vols. When asked why the decision has been delayed compared to many recruits in the 2015 class, Napier said Dixson always planned to wait until after his season ended to make his decision.

“He kind of wanted to take his time through the whole process,” Napier said. “His sister played at Marshall. The family knows how the whole process goes.”

Dixson’s sister, Suporia Dickens, played at Marshall from 2011-2014. Dixson’s cousin, Montrell Dixson, is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound shooting guard in the 2016 class who has drawn some Division I interest.

Something that could hep Tennessee: Ruben Kasongo, the younger brother of 2015 Tennessee signee Ray Kasongo, was a teammate of Dikembe Dixson’s at Mingo Central last season. Ruben Kasongo has since transferred, but the players remained friends.

“Those guys communicate,” Napier said.

Tennessee has one scholarship available for the 2015 class — if additional roster defections do not occur. Last week, UT power forward target Ebuka Izundu committed to Miami.

The 247Sports composite ranks Dixson the No. 219 overall prospect and the No. 43 small forward in the 2015 class.

Vols basketball coach Rick Barnes discusses (brief) TV career

Tennessee fans know they landed an accomplished basketball coach in Rick Barnes.

Some might not have known he’s also a professional actor. Or at least he was — once.

Barnes made an appearance on NBC’s hit TV show “Friday Night Lights” back when he coached the Texas basketball team. He played a football coach in the 11th episode of Season Two, and he’s still reaping the rewards. They include a Screen Actor’s Guild card, an Oscar vote and an occasional royalty of “about 17 or 18 bucks.”

“That came about because my son was living in California,” Barnes told Sports Radio’s SportsTalk on Friday. “I flew back and was sitting beside this guy. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. He told me he was an actor in “Friday Night Lights.” I said, ‘Really?’ They were doing all that in Austin, Texas. He actually sad that everyone on the plane is part of that cast in some way. He pointed to his left and said, ‘That guy right there is in charge of the whole thing.’ He was asleep. I’d gotten up and went to the restroom, and when I came back to my seat, he was awake. And he asked me if I would do a cameo.”

Barnes recruited the show’s top running back, Brian “Smash” Williams, during his cameo. Spoiler alert: Barnes revealed the actor who plays smash, Gaius Charles, said he never touched a football in his life before his role on the show. Barnes joked that it might not be his last acting gig.

“I’m getting ready to stop coaching and get into acting full-time, you know?” he said. “There are a few roles on TV I think I would be really good for. All the roles that (Kevin) Costner and (Clint) Eastwood play, they should have cast me in some of those roles.”

Barnes also told the radio show’s hosts, Jimmy Hyams and Jesse Smithey, that he was conducting this radio interview while in the back of a limousine on the way to a charity event.

Sounds like he’s ready for Hollywood.

Some other highlights from the interview, which you can listen to in full here, included:

  • Two of Barnes’ three UT commitments are from Canada. He was asked if a better brand of basketball is being taught in Canada than the United States.
    Barnes: “I can say this to you without reservation: Every Canadian kid that we have ever coached has a passion, and their work ethic is unbelievable. I can tell you, up to this point, and I don’t think it will be any different, the three Canadians we coached while we were at Texas, those guys would be in the top-10 in terms of putting time in the gym, staying in the gym and wanting to be as good as they can be. I do think there is someway, somehow a work ethic that is put in place there, and a love for the game. They’re getting some great coaching at the grassroots level.”
  • Barnes was asked what it’s like when players leave a program after a coaching change. How hard is he working to get them to stay?
    Barnes: “The key is honesty. You’ve got to sit down, and you’re always going to lay out your program the way that you want it to go — what you’re looking for going forward, what’s going to be expected, what’s going to be the culture you’re trying to create. And sometimes it’s just not what the player is looking for. Sometimes it’s not what the coach is looking for … We want it to work for everyone. But we’ve done this long enough to know that it’s not going to work (for everyone). Sometimes it’s just better that everyone gets a fresh start. You never know how that’s going to work out, but it seems to always take care of itself.”
  • Barnes also said the Vols “could end up on the road” for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this season. The slate of games should be announced sometime this week.

Vols basketball target Kyle Alexander nearing announcement

kyle alexander

  • Tennessee 2015 basketball target Kyle Alexander is nearing a decision between UT and New Mexico and will make his announcement Thursday or Friday, the three-star forward told the News Sentinel in a text message on Wednesday night.
    “Still deciding with my family,” Alexander said.
    Alexander told the News Sentinel on Monday that he hoped to finalize his pick before the end of the week.
    The 6-foot-10 1/2, 200-pound Canadian out of Orangeville Prep in Orangeville, Ontario visited New Mexico last weekend and UT the weekend before.
  • UT 2015 point guard commitment Lamonte’ Turner doesn’t expect to sign his letter of intent until later this month, he told the News Sentinel in a text message Monday. Turner, who plays for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., said he wants to wait until he is back home in Alabama with his family before he signs. UT cannot announce Turner’s addition, and UT coach Rick Barnes cannot comment on him publicly, until he signs.
  • Add University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate transfer James White to the recruiting radar. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello reported Wednesday that UT is among the teams pursuing the 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward. The competition includes Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Wichita State, George Washington, VCU, Ole Miss and Arkansas. White averaged 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, but missed the final 15 games due to a stress fracture, according to Troy Schulte of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. White averaged 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds as a redshirt sophomore. He averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds as a redshirt freshman. The Jonesboro, Ga., native redshirted in 2011-12 due to tendinitis in his knee.