The end result of losing Ramar Smith and Duke Crews is nothing less than a fantastic finish to what will be widely regarded as best recruiting class in Vols’ basketball history which follows on the heels of the winnings season ever.
Getting Scotty Hopkins in April and Bobby Maze in May is nothing short of well... amazing. It took some things to fall into place — like Hopkins de-committing to MIssissippi State and Maryland adding a guard — but it leaves the Vols with a better balanced squad and a vastly improved back court. It gives Bruce Pearl a more flexible, athletic roster that is better able to pressure the ball and control tempo.
It’s also worth noting that both Hopkins and Maze like Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince chose UT after turning the Vols down on their first opportunity. Clearly Pearl has given Tennessee an identity and branded the program with a style of play that captivates fans and players alike.
Moreover three years of success accompanied by high rankings, high seeds, high-profile contests and high-octane performances have altered public opinion about the capability of UT men’s basketball to compete on an elite level.
“Tennessee lost a little bit of scoring but they’ve got some guys coming back and Scotty Hopson’s a McDonald’s All-American,” Maze told Scout.com’s Dave Telep of his decision to sign with the Vols. “To me, it’s the best fit. I had a chance to drive a Geo Prism or a Ferrari. I’m not trying to go to a school and not win; I want a championship. Tennessee has the best opportunity to win because of the players and Coach Pearl.”
As a sophomore at Hutchinson the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Maze averaged 20.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. He shot 50.5 from the field and a solid 72.9 percentage from the free-throw line.
He joins a class that features a shooting guard in Hopson, a combo guard in Daniel West, a small forward in Renaldo Woolridge as well as a center in Phillip Jurick. Another center/power forward in their future is 2009 commitment Kenny Hall of Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga. The Class of 2008 features players from California, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Kansas.