The Vols have five scholarships to offer, and after point guards Josh Selby and Aaron Craft’s de-commitments over the past 2 1/2 months, only one firm prospective signee is penciled in.
Jordan McRae, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Liberty County High School in Midway, Ga., said late Sunday night he’s a solid verbal commitment and will sign this fall.
“I’m staying put,’’ McRae said. “Coach Pearl will sign a good class, I know that.’’
Pearl, reached via e-mail in Israel on Monday where he is coaching the U.S. team in the Maccabiah Games, said one of his top priorities is landing a point guard to complement JUCO signee Melvin Goins, who joins the Vols this fall with two years of eligibility remaining.
“We’ll need a three (wing) to replace J.P. (Prince),’’ Pearl said, “and a four (power forward) to replace Tyler (Smith) and Wayne (Chism).
“This will be an important class to complement our returners. We may need a five (post) as well.’’
OK, so what doesn’t UT need?
As Pearl alluded to, Bobby Maze, Prince, Smith, Chism, and Josh Tabb are all seniors — so that’s five players. Five is the maximum a team can sign in one class.
Scotty Hopson will only be a sophomore this season, but Hopson’s game appears to have grown by leaps since his timid freshman season.
Hopson, a 6-7 shooting guard, has adjusted the trajectory on his 3-point shot and learned to finish with more authority at the rim.
That could mean this is Hopson’s last season with the Vols, though he said this summer he has not given the NBA much thought.
Prince, a 6-7 wing, has undergone shoulder surgery two consecutive summers and has yet to have a healthy offseason. If he were to want to redshirt, with hopes of giving himself an entire summer to lift weights and condition, UT would need to apply for a waiver.
It’s all speculative — much like recruiting.
Losing Selby, the No. 2-rated point guard in the Class of 2010, was a blow to the class according to Dave Telep, Scout.com’s director of scouting.
“Josh Selby has distinguished himself as one of the best scoring guards in the country. He’s very difficult to guard off the bounce,’’ said Telep, who saw Selby play in Charlottesville, Va., last month. “He’s kind of a pied piper — he’s a guy that other kids like playing with.
“It’s obviously a tough blow.’’
Telep said there has been a trend of players de-committing only to end up signing with that same school.
“It you’re Tennessee, you hope that trend continues and you stick in there,’’ Telep said. “He’s a perfect fit for Tennessee’s style of play.’’
UT associate head coach Tony Jones and assistant Steve Forbes are in Las Vegas scouting the various AAU Tournaments.
Schedule Boost? Jones confirmed rumors that the Vols are in discussions with Connecticut about a possible home-and-home series that could start as early as next season.
“It’s all preliminary, and we talk to a lot of teams,’’ Jones said, “but we’re always interested in bettering our schedule and bringing great teams to play in Knoxville in front of our fans.’’