Tennessee’s men’s basketball player Wayne Chism gave a long pause Wednesday when told teammate Josh Tabb had withdrawn from school before saying it “disturbed” him greatly.
“Josh and I are very close, and we’ve been playing together for a long time,’’ said Chism, who arrived with Tabb in the 2006 signing class. “But there’s a situation where he has to take care of his mother. He doesn’t want her all alone when she’s sick. I can understand what he’s doing — anyone would do it for their mom.’’
Tennessee issued a press release stating that Tabb, who was indefinitely suspended from team activities on Sept. 18, had returned to Illinois to care for his mother.
Coach Bruce Pearl gave no reason for Tabb’s suspension, other than saying he “hadn’t taken care of his business like we expect him to as a senior.’’
Tabb was at the doctor’s office with his mother on Tuesday when contacted by the News Sentinel and said he would prefer to comment at a more appropriate time.
“With Josh not playing right now, it was in his best interest and his family’s best interest,’’ Pearl said. “We all hope everything works out for him and his family. We’ll see what happens; Josh has another year of eligibility left.’’
Tabb played point guard last season, backing up starter Bobby Maze. Though he wasn’t expect to start this season, his role figured to be more diversified with the Vols adding junior college transfer Melvin Goins at point guard.
Tabb started 11 games last season, averaging 3.4 points and 17.4 minutes per game.
Known best as a defensive stopper, Tabb had shown improvement in his offense game. He had the best 3-point shooting clip of the players in the rotation last season, hitting .424, albeit, he only attempted 33 shot beyond the arc.
Tabb’s departure, be it temporary or permanent, will not affect UT’s APR because he was eligible at the start of this semester.
“I hope Josh comes back,’’ Chism said. “This is where he has established himself.’’
Senior forward Tyler Smith agreed.
“We’ll miss Josh, he pressed hard and coach loved his defense,’’ Smith said.
Pearl hadn’t given a timetable for Tabb’s potential return after suspending him in September.
The Vols went another man down shortly after Tabb’s suspension when sophomore Emmanuel Negedu suffered a cardiac event that put him out for this season and cast serious doubts on his playing career.
Freshman center Phillip Jurick left the Vols at the conclusion of the fall term of 2008, and UT didn’t extend a scholarship to 2008 signee Daniel West after West was ruled academically ineligible prior to the start of last season.
“This (Tabb) won’t affect us this season so much from a numbers standpoint,’’ Pearl said. “We have a lot of depth this year.’’
Next season is another matter: The Vols return six scholarship players after the 2009-10 season, and the maximum UT can sign in the upcoming class, by NCAA rule, is five players.
The Vols have two verbal commitments, point guard Trae Golden from Powder Springs, Ga., and shooting guard Jordan McRae from Liberty County, Ga.
Tennessee has been actively recruiting three of the top forward prospects in the nation: Tobias Harris and Jayvaughn Pinkston, both of whom hail from the state of New York, and Memphis Ridgeway’s Tarik Black.