Tennessee landed its first men’s basketball commitment in the Class of 2012 on Tuesday night when versatile Derek Reese pledged to sign with the Vols.
The 6-foot-8 Reese, a small forward from Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla., hopes to visit UT this weekend depending on his parents’ work schedule, according to his AAU coach, Reggie Tucker.
Tucker, who played at LSU, said UT has gotten ahead of the curve in landing Reese.
“Derek is a guy who has gotten better every year I’ve had him, and he’s had other schools recruiting him like Boston College, Wake Forest and Ole Miss, and Central Florida offered,’’ said Tucker, who in addition to coaching Reese’s Orlando Q-6 All-Stars AAU team is the coach at Cleveland (Tenn.) High School. “He’ll blossom in the SEC under Coach (Cuonzo) Martin; he fits into that philosophy and system well.
“He can play multiple positions. He’s long, he can shoot the heck out of the ball, and he handles the ball well.’’
Tucker, who is originally from Cleveland, said Reese has attended the past two UT elite summer camps and was recruited by the previous staff as well.
Reese averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game his junior season, but during the past summer he showed his skills against top talent from around the nation on the AAU circuit.
“Derek had his battles with Alex Poythress,’’ said Tucker, referring to the much-coveted Clarksville forward. “He held his own against him every time. We played the Georgia Stars twice (Poythress’ AAU team), and they got us by four the first time and beat us by two in the nationals (in Orlando) when we missed a three(-pointer) at the end.’’
The Vols look to sign between two and four players in the Class of 2012. Martin has said in past interviews he’s looking for size and length in the upcoming recruiting class, but he would also be willing to take a prolific scorer.
Tucker said he has no doubt that Reese will make an impact by his sophomore season of college.
“Derek needs to get stronger, but in him Tennessee is getting a true student-athlete who will go into there with the right mindset,’’ Tucker said. “He called me last night, and he said, 'Coach, I just got off the phone with Coach Martin, and my gut feeling is that I need this coach in my life. I’m a Volunteer.’ ’’
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32