Pearl glad to have Tobias Harris join Vols

You don’t have to be at courtside to get a favorable impression of Tennessee basketball. An upper-deck view was just fine for Tobias Harris.

Two days after watching the Vols from the upper deck at Thompson-Boling Arena, the highly sought-after power forward from Half Hollow Hills West High in Glen Head, N.Y., announced that he had signed with UT.

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Harris, who made his announcement live on ESPNU on Thursday evening, is the highest-rated player ever to sign with the Vols, according to recruiting-service rankings. He’s the third signee in UT’s 2010-11 class, which also includes guards Jordan McRae and Trae Golden.

Harris’ signing resonated immediately in the recruiting rankings. Before he signed, UT was listed “on the cusp” of ESPN.com’s top 25. Afterwards, the Vols soared to No. 8. Rivals ranks its No. 4.

“Tobias is a top-10 player,” UT coach Bruce Pearl said in a phone interview. “We’re a top-20 program. He could have gone anywhere.

“Tony Jones (assistant head coach) did a great job recruiting him. And I think he really liked our players.”

Harris said as much when he made his announcement.

“I have a great relationship with coach (Bruce) Pearl and assistant coach (Tony) Jones,” Harris said when asked why he chose UT. “I got along with the players really well.”

Harris was at ESPN Zone in New York’s Time Square when he was interviewed by ESPNU. His orange shirt could have been a hint that UT was in good shape. But he also included Syracuse as one of his seven finalists.

UT beat out the Orange as well as Kentucky, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Syracuse and West Virginia for Harris.

“He wants to be a difference maker,” :Pearl said. “He was aware of the players we will lose (four of UT’s top players are seniors. “And I think he liked what we did with Tyler (Smith) and Wayne (Chism).”

Although he didn’t make his announcement until Thursday, Harris said he signed with UT a day earlier.

Harris, who averaged 29.2 points per game as a junior, is rated as the No. 5 player overall by Rivals.com. He is rated as the No. 1 power forward.

Harris’ stock soared with recruiting services after he performed so well in summer camps. His improvement could be attributed, in part, to a rigorous conditioning program

“We go to work on speed and agility training from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we do plyometrics and weight training,” Torrel Harris, the father of Tobias Harris and a former college basketball player, told ESPN.com. “Then, from 8-10 we go to the gym for basketball skills training with all my boys (he has two younger teenage sons). Sundays off; we give thanks to the Lord.”

Harris looks more athletic than a prototypical power forward and could be a nice replacement for senior Tyler Smith, a 6-7 forward who has excelled as a scorer, rebounder and passer in Pearl’s up-tempo offense. Harris demonstrated a variety of shots, a soft touch and 3-point range on a highlight video.

Harris brought out the best in UT just by visiting. He made his official visit the week of the UT-Georgia game, which UT won 45-19. He returned on his own Tuesday to watch the Vols rout UNC Asheville 124-49.

Although Harris is the biggest-name signee of UT’s class so far, McRae and Golden also are heralded players.

The 6-1 Golden is a senior at McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga. He was a consensus Class AAAAA first-team all-state selection in Georgia last year, and Rivals.com rates him as a four-star prospect and the No. 55 overall prospect nationally for 2010.

“I’ve been watching Trae play since he was a freshman and have watched him grow and mature,”Pearl said. “He’s a tough kid — a competitor — and he’ll bring an element of toughness to this team. He’s got leadership abilities.

“He’s the kind of guy that we want in this program.”

Golden averaged 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game while leading the Indians to a 24-4 record last season as a junior.

McRae of Liberty County (Ga.) High in Midway, Ga., has been committed to the Vols for more than a year. Scout.com ranks the 6-6 McRae, who averaged 23 points as a junior, as the No. 6 shooting guard in the country, and Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 42 player overall in the 2010 recruiting class.

“We’ve signed three very good kids,” Pearl said. “They’re all good students with great families.”

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.

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Comments » 142

chrisw2967 writes:

welcome to vol land young man

Volsrbest writes:

Sweeeeet!

rocky_topper writes:

1st. Welcome to Big Orange Country. A great addition to UT!

mbible1utk#324980 writes:

the next tyler smith

AceVentura writes:

Next year looks a whole lot more promising now. I was getting a little worried. Great news.

txvolsfan writes:

Voice of UNREASON was dead WRONG!!!!
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

TopTenn writes:

Welcome to Tennessee Tobias. Great job Pearl.

huntined#565710 writes:

WOW!! that's what iam talking bout..
Pearl did a good gob getting him..
Just looking for one more great player this year..

VolinLexington writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

1st. Welcome to Big Orange Country. A great addition to UT!

You mean 3rd! Rocky-notter!

Chris4Vols22 writes:

Welcome Mr. Harris!! I smell another SEC championship (after we win this year's)!! GO VOLS!!

Now we just need Pinkston. GO BIG ORANGE BABY!!

cc623 writes:

Great decision young man!!!

RoadTrip writes:

Rock and roll on the Hill! Welcome Tobias! You will be glad you came. One or two top notch ones to go. Great job CBP and staff.

Velo_Vol writes:

Awesome.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

Voice of UNREASON was dead WRONG!!!!
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

I hate that guy, but FYI, he claimed he knew that Tobias IS signing with the Vols, instead of not signing.

Don't let Cole Hoffman get under your skin, he a sick boy...(terminal cancer).

CHS52VOL writes:

Congrats to all who were involved in the recruitment of Harris. He should be a great one!GBO!

roloyo writes:

I can already hear PEARL JAM 2010 down in Murfreesboro....GBO. Way to go BP

dmcintosh writes:

Saw the announcement on TV. What a classy, well-spoken young man he appears to be. Looks like he'll be a great ambassador for UT basketball. Great job Coach Pearl and staff. Welcome to Rocky Top Tobias!

kdub writes:

he signed with the vols not the lady vols espnu!! anybody else notice the espn genius flashed a lady vol emblem next to his name? Way to go Coach Pearl and staff this is absolutely HUGE!!!!

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to kdub:

he signed with the vols not the lady vols espnu!! anybody else notice the espn genius flashed a lady vol emblem next to his name? Way to go Coach Pearl and staff this is absolutely HUGE!!!!

The Lady Vols logo has baby blue accents and says "Lady Vols".

The logo on ESPNU is correct, just a power T.

ATLVOL55 writes:

Yes!!! Great job Pearl...this helps with the loss of shelby...but who knows...maybe mr. shelby will see that good things are happening hear...nike or no nike.

Go vols

Derelict_My_Vols_Cap_i_tan writes:

Atta boy Bruce!!!!!!!!!!!!1

TonyGeist writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

The Lady Vols logo has baby blue accents and says "Lady Vols".

The logo on ESPNU is correct, just a power T.

It was definitely a Lady Vols logo next to his name on the lower third for the longest time. They only switched to the power T when it went full screen.

AceVentura writes:

Why any kid should come to UT and why we love UT great article attached http://sports.espn.go.com/travel/news...

sizeDD writes:

in response to mbible1utk#324980:

the next tyler smith

Hopefully and most likely much better than Tyler.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to TonyGeist:

It was definitely a Lady Vols logo next to his name on the lower third for the longest time. They only switched to the power T when it went full screen.

Oh, I thought you guys were talking about ESPNU.com...

AceVentura writes:

in response to volfromfla56_did_I_hurt_your_feelings:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah u called it man. And I know there was a guy on here giving you he11 saying that "I know for a fact he wasnt at the game, quit reading rumors online" that dude was a tool. Again good job.

Brainiac writes:

This is the big name sign that Pearl needed. If this kid comes in here next year and has a really good year then you'll see us sign alot me premier players like this. From the looks of this kids highlight tapes he is the real deal! Come be a dominate low post player. Very aggressive and extremely quick first step for a guy that size. He'll be fun to watch. If Hopson stays then they could be tough to handle next year!! GO VOLS!!!!

bigorange61 writes:

in response to volfromfla56_did_I_hurt_your_feelings:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mad props and a dose of street cred to you man.

teedub writes:

Wahoooo!!!!!

Ironcity writes:

Sweet!!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Fantastic pick up!! It would be great if Pinkston would stop listening to the northern media and go ahead and commit/sign with UT.

roloyo writes:

in response to volfromfla56_did_I_hurt_your_feelings:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, no, and definetly no on the sexy part. Don't break your arm pattin' yourself on the back. This is all about CBP.

cumberlandVOL writes:

im so glad we got this guy, he is the next coming of tyler smith (maybe better) and he sounds like he is a tremendous young man with a great work ethic. great pick up

tennrich1 writes:

in response to dmcintosh:

Saw the announcement on TV. What a classy, well-spoken young man he appears to be. Looks like he'll be a great ambassador for UT basketball. Great job Coach Pearl and staff. Welcome to Rocky Top Tobias!

Yeah, even the announcers commented on the class he showed when he announced. Said others had not shown that kind of class and did some "unneccesary"(sp) stuff...He looks very athletic and will be hard to match up...

All_Vol writes:

This was huge. I think he made best choice for him. He is going to be able showcase his talents in BP system very well. Great job staff!

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

Cat Scratch Fever? where are you. I told you that I would say I told you so. He would not go to Kentucky and that Tennessee's system fit him better than the dribble-jive. I mean Drive.

LaneTrain writes:

This is HUGE.

Kentucky who?????????????????????

HHUUMMBBLLEE writes:

final four baby

trivol writes:

Welcome to Rocky Top!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to volfromfla56_did_I_hurt_your_feelings:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes..I remember because I have read all comments pertaining to this story!!! You did call it and I have to admit I started feeling good about when it was stated that he was at the game Tues.

TopTenn writes:

Good news from NY. Now, let's get J Pinkston from NY.

ATLVOL55 writes:

Pinkston would be great...but I'll take one time TN committ Josh Shelby. With Shelby we would probably have the number 1 class in the nation.

Lets also not forget we already have a 5 star committ from Georgia for 2011!!

username writes:

This kid has one hell of a work ethic...

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/recrui...

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to LaneTrain:

This is HUGE.

Kentucky who?????????????????????

Yeah....really!!! Wonder what they think??? Not that I really give a rat's behind!! BTW..Like your screen name!!!

vol_4_fan writes:

Great news for Vols basketball!! Now we need to get at least 1 of the top 6-8 players left out there & I feel this will help. Great job CBP

volsunited writes:

This is a good get for UT! First and foremost he seems like a character individual to go along with his basketball skills and from i what i read just recently on espn.com a strong work ethic. GO VOLS!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you sure about Pinkston??? I hope so!!!

golfballs03 writes:

mcbee is likely to get the other scholarship. that means we have room for one more. Selby and Leslie are still just barely on the radar, but it's unlikely. pinkston, maybe...

golfballs03 writes:

in response to A_VOICE_OF_REASON:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you know nothing. go away

King30 writes:

in response to AboveAllNations:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ok, I didn't see Harrison Barnes' announcement, but Tobias had on a full suit and tie, was very eloquent, AND made his announcement at the ESPNzone in NY with Syracuse fans all around him.
Can't get much classier than that.
I sure hope ESPN provided some security for him to get out of that place!

Welcome to Big Orange Country Tobias!
You'll be playing in front of the best fan base in the country!
RTYAB

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