Reese on picking UT

Derek Reese

Tennessee's first basketball commitment for the Class of 2012 says the Vols provide everything he's looking for in a college program.

"Every kid growing up wants to go to a school that plays at the big-time level against big-time players, and Tennessee does that," Derek Reese told InsideTennessee.com by phone from his home in Orlanda, Fla.

"I always wanted to play at that level," he added. "What got me to that level was my AAU coaches, Willie Anderson and Reggie Tucker. They worked with me and pushed me. It was a tough road but I got better each year. I wanted to play for a college coach who was the same way, and (Vol) Coach (Cuonzo) Martin reminded me of them."

Reese is a 6-8, 205-pounder who shot around 48 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3 en route to averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds per game for Olympia High School as a junior last season, according to head coach Mark Griseck. Reese then led the Florida Q6 Rams in both scoring and rebounding last summer, AAU coach Reggie Tucker said, averaging "around 16 or 17 points per game."

Reese says he is impressed with first-year Vol head man Cuonzo Martin on several levels.

"He's a humble person who has been through a lot and survived cancer," Reese said. "He was telling me about some players he developed and helped get to the NBA. He says he can develop me, and I believe he can do that."

Reese, who attended Tennessee's elite camp each of the past two years, described his game as "versatile," adding: "I can play many positions. I want to be able to do every aspect of the game - defend, shoot, rebound, score ... everything."

Because of his lanky frame and his versatility, he says he is often compared to a former NBA standout.

"I keep hearing that my game is similar to Scottie Pippin's," Reese noted. "Both of us are 6-8 forwards that can pass and play at different paces during the game. I know when to go fast and when to take my time."

Griseck confirms that versatility is one of Reese's greatest assets.

"He does a little bit of everything," the high school coach said. "He's an excellent 3-point shooter, a good rebounder and he handles the ball well. He's a tough matchup for his size.

"He's a 6-8 wing, probably 205 pounds and a skilled player. He's probably going to grow a little more. He might be 6-9 before it's over. He has big upside."

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