NCB On The Trail: Tennessee Volunteers

ESPN 100 small forward Chris Clarke was one of the surprises of the summer as he blossomed playing for the Boo Williams team. After standing out at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June he saw his recruiting begin to take off and he recently narrowed his list down to four schools: Connecticut, Creighton, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Today he choose Tennessee and new head coach Donnie Tyndall. Let’s take a look at what the Volunteers are getting in Clarke:

Cofer headlines Tennessee class

November, 15, 2013
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin landed four letters of intent on Thursday evening, including ESPN 100 power forward Phil Cofer (Atlanta/Whitewater).

Joining Cofer in Knoxville will be four-star point guard Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier), four-star center C.J. Turman (Madison, Ga./Morgan County) and three-star shooting guard Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin).

"I'm really excited about this signing class," Martin said. "We've signed four great kids who bring a combination of athleticism, skill and toughness to our program. I know all of them are eager to get here and get to work."

Class rankings analysis: Oct. 30 

October, 30, 2013
As we come down to the wire for basketball's early signing period in November, many of the best players in the nation have finished their visits and are ready to make their decisions. Here’s a look at how some of the recruiting classes are shaping up as we get closer to the signing period:

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#AskCoachB: Where will Looney end up?

September, 4, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

I recently spoke with Kevon Looney about his recruiting and the recruiting process. Last week he came back from an official visit to Florida and has a great time with the staff and players.

"I like the vision the coach Donovan has for the program and how I will fit in," Looney said.

After watching individual workouts and being on campus for 48 hours, Looney also came away with his eyes wide open on how much time college players have to invest into each day. Next up this weekend he will be heading to Duke with visits scheduled to Tennessee (Sept. 20), UCLA and Michigan State in October. He also plans on making a second unofficial to Wisconsin. "I plan on taking all my visits," Looney said.

Looney currently stands as the No. 9-ranked player in the ESPN 100, a forward with a combination of great athletic ability, length and skill who can score from the high post and short wing area. He needs to engage himself more with his rebounding and not stand on the perimeter too long as well as continue to work on a his low post game to have a balanced scoring attack.

More importantly he is a good student and high character young man who will shine on any college campus. Look for him to make his college decision before the early signing period.

Weekly commitment roundup

August, 23, 2013
Big Ten conference
Ohio State
Mickey Mitchell SF Plano, Texas/Plano West
HT: 6-foot-6 WT: 210 pounds
Class of 2015
Positional Rank: 31
Stars: 4
ESPN 60: 31

Big East conference
Seton Hall
Angel Delgado PF Troy, N.Y./Huntington Prep
HT: 6-8 WT: 215
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 16
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 63

Pac-12 conference
Craig Victor PF New Orleans/Findlay Prep)
HT: 6-8 WT: 205
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 5
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 31

Kaleb Joseph PG Nashua, N.H./Cushing Academy
HT: 6-3 WT: 165
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 10
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 51

Trayvon Reed C Snellville, Ga./Shiloh
HT: 7-1 WT: 210
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 9
ESPN 100: 84

JaKeenan Gant PF Springfield, Ga./Effingham County
HT: 6-8 WT: 210
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 7
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 37

C.J. Turman C Madison, Ga./Morgan County
HT: 6-9 WT: 215
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 15
Stars: 4

Brandon Austin SF Montgomery, Ala./Carver
HT: 6-5 WT: 180
Class of 2015
Positional Rank: 14
Stars: 4

Big West conference
UC-Santa Barbara
Justin Burks SF Las Vegas/Arbor View
HT: 6-5 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Rashann London SG Philadelphia/Roman Catholic
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Ivy League
Mike LeBlanc SF Dover, N.H./New Hampton School
HT: 6-6 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Farleigh Dickinson
Devin Eke PF Scotch Plains, N.J./Union Catholic
HT: 6-6
Class of 2014
Position Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

America East
Justin McFadden SG Ardmore, Pa./Lower Merion
HT: 6-5 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Brandon Hatton SG Covington, Ky./Dixie Heights
HT: 6-2
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Cam Ward SG Marshall, Wisc./Marshall
HT: 6-2 WT: 155
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Center C.J. Turman commits to Vols

August, 18, 2013
Tennessee landed its fourth recruit from the 2014 class on Sunday when four-star center C.J. Turman (Madison, Ga./Morgan County) committed to the Vols, has confirmed.

Alabama, Georgia, Houston and Miami were among the schools to offer Turman.

Turman joins a class that features ESPN 100 point guard Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) along with four-star prospects Phil Cofer (Atlanta/Whitewater) and Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin).

Analyzing recent ESPN 100 PG news 

August, 13, 2013

Reading through the typical recruiting jargon can be a difficult task, especially for the untrained eye, but suffice it to say that things aren’t always what they seem.

Some of the most misleading statements often include sayings like, "He has offers from," or "He chose school X over," or "He decommitted from," primarily because they consider only one side of the process.

The fact of the matter is that schools choose prospects as much as prospects choose schools, and the former is no less fluid than the latter.

What does that mean? It means that sometimes when a tweet or recruiting article says Player X committed to School Y over offers from Schools A, B, C and D, what it can really mean is that Schools A, B, C and D offered Player X at some point in the past, but are no longer recruiting him, so he decided to commit to School Y.

Now, why would a school suddenly stop recruiting a prospect? Because they suddenly realized he wasn't good enough? Possibly, but more likely it's because they have since received a commitment from, or feel like they are on the verge of a commitment from, someone else at the same position whom they hold in a little higher esteem.

So, with that in mind, we're going to rewind through a particularly busy few weeks in the national point guard market and make an attempt to translate the real story. Whether it was a prospect who made a commitment or cut his list, we'll tell you which schools are in, which are out, the real story behind whose decision it was, and the bottom line for each prospect. Then we'll circle back and tell you which two ESPN 100 point guards are still uncommitted and open to new suitors.

[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
AP Photo/Damen Jackson No. 1 PG Tyus Jones recently reaffirmed his desire to play college hoops with No. 1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor.
News: Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) reaffirms his intent to go to school with Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young)
In: Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State
Out: Minnesota
Real story: Minnesota is still on Jones' list of seven, but the Gophers aren't on Okafor's list. That, in addition to the fact Richard Pitino and his staff could be seen prioritizing other targets this summer, is indication enough that Jones isn't likely to be staying home next season. The latest twist in the story is Okafor's AAU coach, Mike Irvin, going on record saying there is a great chance Duke lands Jones, while Okafor's camp has denied the Blue Devils are the leader for the package deal.
Bottom line: Jones and Okafor do want to go to school together, but they don't yet agree on where. Jones appears pretty set on Duke, but Okafor not quite as much at this point. ESPN 100 SF Justise Winslow (Houston/Saint John's) is also part of the conversation, making this potentially one of the biggest package deals in recent history.

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Tennessee lands ESPN 100 PG Austin 

August, 1, 2013
ESPN 100 point guard Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) committed to Tennessee on Thursday over offers from Bradley, DePaul, Iowa, Kansas State, Missouri, SMU and Oklahoma State, among others.

Austin, the No. 68 overall prospect in the ESPN 100, is a great get and a great fit for Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin in what is already an impressive recruiting class that is now ranked No. 7 in the country.

[+] EnlargeLarry Austin
Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesESPN 100 PG Larry Austin was a priority recruit for Tennessee.
Austin is the Vols’ first ESPN 100 prospect in the 2014 class, but Tennessee also has commitments from four-star power forward Phil Cofer (Atlanta/Whitewater) and four-star shooting guard Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin). Cofer will bring rebounding, shot-blocking and finishing at the rim, while Cornish adds shooting. And now they have a lead guard in Austin who can get them the ball.

So why did Austin pick Tennessee and what will he bring to the Vols?

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ESPN 100 forward Kevon Looney (Milwaukee/Hamilton) confirmed to on Thursday that he has narrowed his choices to six schools.

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Future Volunteer shines in Florida 

July, 26, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. -- While the nationally televised contest between Houston Hoops and Each 1 Teach 1 offered fans highlights of some of the nation’s top talent at the AAU Super Showcase on Thursday, there were plenty of other stellar performances at both AAU Nationals and Super Showcase that didn’t make it on air but still deserved some notoriety.

Performances like that of shooting guards Antonio Blakeney and Robert Johnson and Tennessee pledge Phil Cofer had coaches gushing,

Here’s the lowdown on whose game stood out on Thursday in the Sunshine State.

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Hunting HS gems and jucos in Georgia 

July, 21, 2013
Editor's note: This is the latest entry in Dave Telep's July Road Trip blog. Throughout the month, Dave will check in each day he's on the road while covering some of the biggest basketball recruiting events in the country. He'll let you know where he is, offer some highlights of the day and give a quick look at what's next.

ATLANTA -- The only goal I had on Saturday was to end my pursuit of 2015 point guard Jawun Evans (Simpsonville, S.C./Legacy Charter). We live in bordering states, yet for whatever reason our paths hadn’t crossed yet. Saturday afternoon, they finally did as I skipped over to the Elite 32 in Atlanta after a couple days at the Best of the South in Suwanee, Ga.

Elsewhere on Saturday, we often talk about players getting out of their comfort zone. Well, I stepped out of mine for a few hours and dipped my toes into the junior college pool at an event back in Suwanee. It was kind of like jumping into a lake in the middle of winter in Wisconsin.

Here are some nuggets from Saturday’s action across Georgia.

Evans will rocket up the charts

[+] EnlargeJawun Evans
Dave Telep/ESPN Jawun Evans is on his way to establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the 2015 class.
Evans is on a short list of top point guards in the 2015 class. He’s that good, and he’ll be in contention for highest honors as this position plays out over the next two years.

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Vols land ESPN 60 PF

June, 11, 2013
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee nabbed a verbal commitment from ESPN 60 junior forward Phil Cofer (Fayetteville, Ga./Whitewater) on Tuesday.

Cofer, ranked No. 56 in the 2014 class, chose the Volunteers over Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Ole Miss, among others. He joins shooting guard Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin) in Tennessee's 2014 recruiting class.

Former Vols recruit inks with Aggies

May, 7, 2013
Senior point guard Travon Landry (San Antonio/Huntington Prep) signed a letter of intent with New Mexico State over the weekend after being released from his scholarship to Tennessee, the Aggies announced.

Landry had been committed to Tennessee since his junior season, but a scholarship crunch in Knoxville led him to reopen his recruitment.

"We are pleased to welcome Travon Landry to the Aggie nation," New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies said in a release. "Travon is a tenacious defender and competitor. Playing on one of the top high school teams in the United States last year, Travon brings a winning resume and attitude to the program. Increasing competition in practice is a must when developing a top-tier Division I men's basketball program, and we're optimistic that with this year's additions the atmosphere of practice will be at a very high level."

Landry helped lead Huntington Prep (W.Va.) to a 30-3 record this season and the No. 8 ranking in the final ESPN 25 Power Rankings.

Tennessee gets 2014 SG commitment

May, 7, 2013
Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin), a 6-foot-4 junior shooting guard, ended his recruitment on Monday night with a verbal pledge to Tennessee, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The three-star prospect chose the Vols over offers from Oklahoma, Purdue, VCU, Houston, UTEP and Wake Forest.

"When I called coach (Cuonzo) Martin tonight to tell him I committed, he told me that I resemble him a lot from when he was a player," Cornish told the newspaper. "That's what he likes about me -- that toughness that I bring to the table. That's what he bases his program on -- toughness -- and I want to be a part of it."

Cornish plays for the Team Louisiana travel squad in the Nike EYBL. He is the first recruit from the 2014 class for Tennessee.

PG Landry released from UT scholarship

May, 6, 2013
Class of 2013 point guard Travon Landry (San Antonio/Huntington Prep) has been released from the letter of intent he signed with Tennessee, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Landry originally committed to the Vols in December 2011 and signed his letter of intent last November.

With Jarnell Stokes' decision to remain at UT next season, the Volunteers were over the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships, the News Sentinel reported. The newspaper also reported that Landry was on an official visit to New Mexico State on Saturday.

Tennessee still has four players signed for next season: ESPN 100 shooting guard Robert Hubbs (Newbern, Tenn./Dyer County), small forward A.J. Davis (Norcross, Ga./Buford), point guard Darius Thompson (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Blackman) and center Rawane Ndiaye (Ottumwa, Iowa/Indian Hills C.C.).