"It was the fans and the academics," Chism told national recruiting analyst Jeff Goodman of Scout.com. "That's what it came down to. I really like the new staff and I wanted to hear about the academics."
Wayne Chism averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks per game as a junior, helping lead Bolivar Central to the Class-6A state championship. His stock has been steadily on the rise over a summer of outstanding AAU play, which was highlighted by an excellent defensive performance against No. 1 rated prospect Greg Oden in the Real Deal on the Hill tournament in Fayetteville, Ark. Chism averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Memphis Pump & Run AAU team which is loaded with Division I talent.
"We've only had him one year, but his potential is unreal," Bolivar Central coach Rick Rudesill said. "He's shown me something different every day."
When asked what turned the tide for Tennessee Rudesill said: "I think he just liked the school. I think basketball's important to him, but I think it was the school and the coaches. That was a huge factor. The old guys made inroads and Bruce Pearl and his staff kept the momentum going. He realized these guys are good guys and he feels good about his decision."
Tennessee's attention will turn to Chism's high school teammate, Willie Kemp, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound combo guard who is ranked No. 6 at his position nationally by Scout.com. There has been much speculation about the teammates signing with the same college. Obviously, the Vols are the only team in position to land both standouts.
UT is recruiting two other Memphis prospects that play for Pump & Run — forward Thaddeus Young and combo forward Pierre Niles. Young is rated the nation's No. 2 forward by Scout.com and Niles is rated No. 19 at his position. Both prized prospects have Tennessee on their list of finalists.
Bruce Pearl's early success in the Bluff City will make his task of turning Tennessee's basketball program around much easier than originally anticipated.