Don't get caught up in the numbers.
"I feel even more energy in and behind our program, and I think that it's a result of the quality of our play in St. Louis,'' Pearl said. "Not necessarily the Sweet 16, or Elite Eight; don't put a number on it.
"But the quality of basketball we played in the NCAA tournament, the way we shot, the way we defended and the way we played with intelligence and intensity demonstrated we are a top 20 program.''
Michigan State ended UT's season with a 70-69 win in the Midwest Regional final at the Edward Jones Dome, leaving the Vols with a 28-9 record.
It's the second-most number of single-season wins in the Vols' 101-year men's basketball history - the Vols won 31 games in 2007-08.
"This Tennessee team and my 1995 (Southern Indiana) national championship team played their best basketball at the end of the season,'' Pearl said. "They went about their business, they prepared, they focused, they were quietly confident, they acted like professionals, they handled success very well and they handled defeat really well.
"They represented Tennessee basketball and the university like they were supposed to.''
Pearl has quickly turned his attention to the future.
"We need to continue to show this is a place where individuals can realize their goals,'' Pearl said. "Ryan Childress and Wayne Chism are the only two guys that have come in and stayed with me four years, and they graduated.
"J.P. (Prince) came to us for 3 1/2 years and he graduated, too. Next year, Brian Williams and Steven Pearl will graduate, and that will make us 5-for-5.''
Pearl hopes to go 3-for-3 with departing senior Chism, Prince and Bobby Maze getting an opportunity in the NBA.
"We've got to get J.P. and Wayne in a position to be drafted, and it's big to get Bobby in Portsmouth (seniors pre-draft camp) next week," Pearl said. "My job is to put the guys in position to be successful, and several things took place as the season progressed to make that happen.
"J.P. and Wayne both find themselves on mock NBA Draft boards; Wayne was appearing during his senior year, and J.P. has appeared there after the tournament.''
Pearl said it's proof that the system works.
"It proves that when we as a team are a successful," Pearl said, "you as an individual will benefit far more than if you are successful but the team fails.''
Another evaluation: Pearl said junior center Brian Williams will be reviewed by the NBA Draft evaluation committee in addition to sophomore wing Scotty Hopson.
Hopson has left the door open for speculation on whether he'll return to UT, but he recently tweeted: "No more letdowns. That's a promise!!!"
Chism signs: Former UT forward Wayne Chism has signed on with Knoxville's Allegiant Athletic Agency (a3) for professional representation. Chism led the Vols with a 12.6 points per game scoring average and 7.2 rebounds per outing.
Chism will participate in the Portsmouth Invitational April 7-10 in Virginia.