Much of that depends on the status of juniors Tyler Smith
, J.P. Prince
and Wayne Chism
which may not be determined until they go through the NBA evaluation process. There are enough holes in each of their games to make a first round projection problematical, although Smith would appear to the be the highest ranked of the junior trio.
Still some scouts will see him as a 3.5, falling between the small forward and power forward classification. That is to say he lacks size to play inside and range to patrol the perimeter. However Smith could attract interest as a player who can provide quality minutes at more than one position. He also has value if utilized as a point forward in the half-court game. He's effective in transition and could provide points off the bench. A better passer than a dribbler Smith high turnover nights
Chism has nice upside and has improved in each of his three seasons on The Hill. He became a more consistent rebounder, scorer, three-point threat and free throw shooter. He runs the floor exceptionally well and has developed more of a post up game. Needs to tighten his defense while eliminating careless fouls. Prince will need to make his fortune on defense and in transition. He would seem to benefit most from another season of collegiate ball in order to develop his shooting skills.
Obviously the Vols would like to like to add a JUCO point guard which could, presumably, only happen if one of the three juniors depart early. Should that not occur the Vols will hope to get more in the way of lead guard play from Bobby Maze, an Allen Iverson look alike with a shoot first mindset. Then there's the anticipated addition of Daniel West to the ranks of the eligible. The combo guard from Saginaw, Mich., will give Pearl more flexibility and a potential defensive stopper.
UT's only 2009 signee is Kenny Hall, who attends Redan High School in metro Atlanta, is from Stone Mountain, Ga. Listed at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, he is ranked the nation's No. 9 power forward and No. 29 overall among the current crop of seniors by Scoutc.om. Hall is coming off a big season in which he helped lead Redan to the Region 2-AAAAA championship over rival Stephenson High School. In that critical contest Halls scored 21 points, on 8-of-10 shooting. He also contributed 10 boards, five blocks and four assists in the 73-63 victory which avenged two regular season losses to it crosstown rival.
"I just tried to keep everyone positive; we just had to take care of the ball, and we finally did," Hall said after the game. "I think we just wanted it more than they did tonight after they beat us twice."
Hall committed to Tennessee on his official visit just over a year ago. He never wavered despite increased interest from teams such as Duke, Georgia Tech, UCLA and LSU.
"Coaches tend to like guys who want to play for them," Pearl said in a story published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Kenny demonstrated early on that when the Vols had interest in him, he had interest in us. Given the fact that he committed to us last season, I feel like he's already been a part of our family here for a long time.
"Kenny is a very productive, unselfish player who can do things offensively both inside and out. I'm excited about having him join our program, and I think our fans will love watching him play."
As a junior Hall averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds to paced the Raiders to a 14-win season and collect All-State honors. He improved on all those numbers as a senior is Redan improved to 18 victories.
Hall runs the floor well, exhibits good quickness and is a strong finisher around the basket. He hits the glass with abandon and plays with intensity particularly on defense. Once he adds upper body strength he should become a starter and perhaps a force in the SEC.
Tennessee's longest off season in Bruce Pearl's inspired four-year helmsmanship will feature some recruiting but most of the improvement will come from the authors of the recently completed 21-13 campaign — or will it?