Buzz looks for recruiting edge

Tennessee basketball coach Buzz Peterson is looking for a recruiting edge as he tries to replace assistant coach Kerry Keating, who recently left to join the staff at UCLA.

Peterson admitted recently that he wants to ''lock up the state.''

The early favorite for the staff vacancy is Clarence Swearengen. In addition to being a former Vol, he has ties to talent-rich Memphis as a former University of Memphis aide and as the current head man at Melrose High School. On top of that, he's related to two players who will be on the Vol roster this season -- Scooter McFadgon and Lou Wright.

Tony White is another ex-Vol with designs on a staff position. There also is a chance that Ed Conroy, currently UT's director of basketball operations, will return to on-the-floor coaching.

Whatever happens with the staff position, it's a good bet that the newly created administrative position will go to Chuck Benson. He's a former Vol aide under Kevin O'Neill who recently resigned as head man at Martin Methodist. Benson has the inside track because his father, Charlie, is the coach of the Tennessee Travelers AAU team. The Travelers routinely boast some of the state's finest prep talent, including former Kentucky standout Ron Mercer and former Vol Vincent Yarbrough. Significantly, Benson's current Travelers squad boasts Portland High superstar Corey Brewer, a 6-foot-7 wing player Peterson is believed to covet.

In other basketball news ...

UT's non-conference schedule for 2003-04 again features some cupcakes early and some tougher tests late.

The November/December foes will include Texas A&M, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, Georgia State, UNC-Asheville, Wofford and Nebraska. All of these are home games except Nebraska.

The non-conference schedule gets a bit meatier once the new year and the opportunity for TV exposure arrives. The Vols will visit UMass on Jan. 3 (ESPN2), host Louisville Jan. 24 (ESPN) and host Georgia Tech Feb. 7 (ABC).

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