The biggest thing he did to evoke memories of the past glory days was putting together three superb campaigns that featured two SEC East titles and three invitations to the Big Dance. He also led the Vols to a couple of Sweet 16 appearances, the winningest season in school history and a first-ever No. 1 ranking.
Beginning his fourth season this fall, Pearl has assembled a deep, experienced, talented team that projects as one of the top five in the country. The only problem with gathering such top flight athletes is depletion via early departure for NBA.
That's why Tennessee is still a prominent player in the high school market for the Class of 2009. So far the Vols have one commitment in Kenny Hall, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward/center from Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga. Hall is rated the nation's No. 12 player at his position.
The Vols haven't finished with power forwards or the Peach State. In fact, Pearl is reaching into the city of Marietta in an attempt to acquire another versatile forward who brings a full-throttle effort and long-distance range.
Richard Howell, 6-7, 220, also brings back memories of another Marietta prospect who made a name for himself at UT and beyond. Dale Ellis combined a post-up game that relied on quickness to get his shot off against bigger opponents. As a senior he moved further out on the court and became a lethal long-range threat in the days before the three-point basket.
However he got his just due in the NBA where he enjoyed a 17-year career and is regarded today as one of the finest shooters in league history.
In addition to his hometown, Howell is the same height as Ellis was and he's bigger by 15 pounds. He's also an open court operator who can scored with his back to the basketball or shoot from the perimeter.
Dave Telep, Scout.com's director of basketball recruiting, watched Howell play AAU basketball this spring for the World Wide Renegades Orange and files the following report.
Richard Howell: "When he gets all 6-7 of that athletic and strong frame going he's a menace. We like how he seems to play with a little nasty streak. His approach is that he should get a touch every possession and if it doesn't come his way he has no problem going and getting it off the glass. That's two consecutive strong weekends for the big fella. 22 in the first playoff contest."
Among the schools recruiting Howell are Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, USC, North Carolina, Clemson, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Georgetown, Marquette, Memphis, N.C. State, Oregon State,Texas, Tennessee, USC and Virginia Tech. He has high interest in Auburn, Memphis, Michigan State and Tennessee.
Howell is rated the nation's No. 27 power forward prospect and is No. 81 among all the prospects in Scout.com's Class of 2009.