Cuonzo Martin is visible to recruits on AAU trail

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin looks on during a workout in Pratt Pavilion on campus Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin looks on during a workout in Pratt Pavilion on campus Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

If Cuonzo Martin isn't dressed in bright orange at an AAU basketball tournament in July, it can only mean one thing.

"It means I couldn't get to a washer and dryer at the hotel,'' the Tennessee first-year coach said Tuesday. "If I'm out of orange, I'll wear my whites, but that's OK because my clothes will still have enough orange in them.''

Martin's recruiting challenge began on Wednesday in Philadelphia at the Reebok Breakout Challenge. On Thursday, the venue shifted to Akron, Ohio, to the LeBron James Skills Academy.

Today, Tennessee is at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, and Martin is on to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Big Shots Challenge on Saturday.

"We're covering a lot of ground,'' said Martin, who's trying to keep the Vols in the running for big-shot recruits. "We're trying to finish strong in 2012, but also 2013-14, because those guys are the program's future.''

Martin's orange apparel helps Tennessee stand out from the pack - but so do the pending sanctions the NCAA is expected to hand down in mid-August.

UT is expected to be placed on probation and could lose scholarships and/or face additional sanctions as a result of NCAA recruiting violations committed by former coach Bruce Pearl and the previous coaching staff, all of whom were terminated on March 21 - six days before Martin was hired.

As excited as Martin and his staff are about the program's future under new leadership, a level of uncertainty will remain until collegiate sports' governing body issues a judgment.

If the prospects aren't thinking about Tennessee's plight, rival coaches will be quick to remind them.

Martin's philosophy of operating on the level at all times offers him little defense.

"When a kid asks me what's going to happen, I tell them the truth, that I don't know for sure,'' Martin said. "I hate to speculate, and I would never want to say what I think the NCAA will do, because what if a kid commits, and then the NCAA does something different?

"Then the kid says 'Coach, you told me so-and-so,' and you've got a potential problem.''

Tennessee's personnel problems - chiefly, a lack of size and experience on the front line - might actually work in the Vols' favor; playing time is a resource UT can offer.

Martin said he and his staff have an idea of the players they will pursue, but a keen eye for talent can still make a difference.

"It never fails, 10 or 15 guys get under that radar going into their junior or senior year,'' Martin said. "So for us, we want to identify those guys and get those relationships built before that happens.

"It's funny, I've heard a couple of times people wonder if I can recruit big-time players,'' he said. "I recruited in the Big 10 for eight years. I've seen talent, and I know what I'm looking for.''

Martin said successful recruiting goes beyond looking at the five-star prospects and a McDonald's High School All-American.

"On paper, they might not be a top-ranked guy, but you can see the talent,'' he said. "It's amazing from one year to the next how those guys' confidence and toughness can develop.''

Still, Martin's not so naive as to think he can take a player lacking skills and turn him into a productive SEC player.

"Talent is first and foremost, after that, you look at the kid's level of toughness and athleticism,'' Martin said. "Does he have good length, does he get in the passing lanes, can he defend multiple positions?''

Martin uses Purdue All-American JaJuan Johnson as an example. Johnson, who Martin recruited to the Boilermakers, was recently picked 27th in the first round of the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics.

"I remember the first time I saw JaJuan Johnson he was a skinny 6-foot-6, 160-pound kid,'' Martin said of the 6-10, 220-pound Johnson, Purdue's only first-round pick since Glenn Robinson in 1994. "You look at him now, and you see what hard work, discipline and confidence can do.''

Purdue's E-Twaun Moore, another player Martin recruited to the Boilermakers, was also drafted, going 55th overall to Boston.

After Martin's time at the talent-rich Peach Jam tournament in North Augusta, S.C., (July 11-15), the UT staff will huddle during the ensuing NCAA-mandated quiet period, when the coaches come off the road.

"We'll sit down as a staff, start X-ing off guys, picking out guys we like,'' Martin said. "Then we'll go back on the road and starting honing in on guys we want to bring to campus in the fall for official and unofficial visits on football weekends.''

The second part of the July evaluation period runs from July 22-31, but Martin will detour off the recruiting trail on July 28 and head for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the USA Basketball Junior National Team tryouts and training July 29-Aug. 7.

Martin, who along with Butler coach Brad Stevens will be assistants to Purdue coach Matt Painter, will go directly from Colorado to Shenzhen, China, for the World University Games from Aug. 13-23.

"Jon (Harris), Kent (Williams) and Tracy (Webster) will finish it off on the road,'' Martin said of his UT assistants. "The good thing about this is, it's just a matter of doing your homework and watching guys play. Unless it's a new kid, we should have a pretty good idea about them by early August.

"For us, it's identifying guys that can help us do what we need to do to be successful.''

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Comments » 37

BradleyJKinkaid writes:

I like Cuonzo Martin!

LiveFaith writes:

I hope he wins soon enough. Because I like everything else about Coach Martin.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Gooooooooo VOLS! Beat Kentucky!!

RoadTrip writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

I hope he wins soon enough. Because I like everything else about Coach Martin.

Good post and I agree.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

This needs to be iterated again:

"UT is expected to be placed on probation and could lose scholarships and/or face additional sanctions as a result of NCAA recruiting violations committed by former coach Bruce Pearl and the previous coaching staff, all of whom were terminated on March 21 - six days before Martin was hired."

and

"It's funny, I've heard a couple of times people wonder if I can recruit big-time players,'' he said. "I recruited in the Big 10 for eight years. I've seen talent, and I know what I'm looking for.'"

VolzsFan writes:

"It's amazing from one year to the next how those guys' confidence and toughness can develop.''

Of course according to the fan experts, all improvement stops when they get to college. I mean a kid from one season will be the same kid from the previous year right? That is why they are predicting such doom and gloom for the Vols because no one will develop.

eduardo writes:

everybody criticizing this guys recruiting needs to back off!!!! he has serious street cred and is going to blow you all away!

txvolsfan writes:

there was a lot of negative comments about Bruce when he came to UT and he did OK recruiting. I like Cuonzo and really hope he does well in KVille

toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years writes:

Never thought I would say this but Bruce left the program worse off then when he got here. I guess lying and playing your son are not the way to a final four.

HooRay_Vol writes:

in response to BradleyJKinkaid:

I like Cuonzo Martin!

I like the Wizard of Oz.....................I like the Tin Man.

keepitreal4vols writes:

I like Coach Martin, but it all comes down to selling popcorn and winning.

FeelVol writes:

I'll have a bag!Go Vols and Coach Martin.

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

Can we get the coach more orange shirts so he doesn't have to wash during a recruiting trip

CoverOrange writes:

in response to toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years:

Never thought I would say this but Bruce left the program worse off then when he got here. I guess lying and playing your son are not the way to a final four.

Yes you did and no he didn't.

NewMarketVol writes:

Bruce raised the bar and now Zo will take them over it!!

HtownVol writes:

in response to toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years:

Never thought I would say this but Bruce left the program worse off then when he got here. I guess lying and playing your son are not the way to a final four.

Do explain

Bruce got here with ZERO top 100 recruits. We now have 6 on the roster.

Golden
McRae
Hall
Maymon
Woolridge
Tatum

What is the other reason? We may have a one (two at most) season post season tournament ban? When Bruce got here there was not ONE SINGLE UT fan that expected to make the NCAA for the next two seasons (especially 6 in a row).

CCM will keep the talent level far above what Buzz ever dreamed of and after the NCAA deals the blow coming and the punishment is over UT will be in much better shape than Bruce ever inherited.

I like the way CCM thinks about recruiting. Makes one think maybe this class already here may have some talent in it. Just no size and not one shooter or player capable of guarding a true Center.

GO VOLS!

MusicCityVol writes:

I like the fact that CM is being up-front with these guys about the potential sanctions. There are a lot of football players at USC that wish Lane Kiffin had done the same thing.

It's hard to say just how well this staff will recruit but I feel confident they won't get out-worked.

Checkerboard Chatting with Mark Pancratz
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

tennrich1 writes:

I just wonder if we could give him two years or so and then reconvene and discuss then what we have no clue about now....give the man time...and of course CBP left us in MUCH better shape than we were before...take your head out of the sand and look at the stats....really doesn't take a basketball genius to figure that one out...of course you need to be older than 15 to remember what it was like all those cold lonely nights going 5-20.....

voloffaith writes:

in response to toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years:

Never thought I would say this but Bruce left the program worse off then when he got here. I guess lying and playing your son are not the way to a final four.

You shouldn't have and he didn't talent wise...Buzz did leave some quality in Loften and JuJuan along with some others. However,if these remnant get coached up and further develop we are not in a bad way except at the post and missing dead on outside threat. So the "sky is not falling Auntie Em."

DiegoVol writes:

in response to TheKentuckyEffect:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you are going to use "SEAL" in your name at least do them some justice and use it correctly.

SEAL is not a word its an acronym.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to BradleyJKinkaid:

I like Cuonzo Martin!

I do too. Could we read one article without having it tarnished with Pearl's bullsh*t? Man.

AHoffman writes:

in response to eduardo:

everybody criticizing this guys recruiting needs to back off!!!! he has serious street cred and is going to blow you all away!

Sounds like a description of Kiffin.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to DiegoVol:

If you are going to use "SEAL" in your name at least do them some justice and use it correctly.

SEAL is not a word its an acronym.

He actually meant seal. He is anticipating the follow up movie to G-Force, this time with Sea World performers that are secret agents.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to PatientlyWaiting:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your name is fraudulent.

thevoice writes:

in response to BradleyJKinkaid:

I like Cuonzo Martin!

Me too. His integrity is refreshing, making pulling for him so easy.

rdavidso writes:

in response to HooRay_Vol:

I like the Wizard of Oz.....................I like the Tin Man.

Haha well done sir/madam. I hadn't seen A Christmas Story in several years and randomly used that quote the other day and cracked someone up

samvol writes:

in response to PatientlyWaiting:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why don’t you just go and find a team that will make YOU happy because the Volunteers obviously DON’T. I wanted Pearl gone too, now that he is, I’m willing to move forward. Stop with the bashing of our players

NYvolFan writes:

Zo seems like he really knows what he's doing, and given that we paid 4 idiots almost $10 million to go away, can't we get this guy some more Big Orange shirts and shorts?

Colliervol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Your name is fraudulent.

So is his basketball knowledge.

Colliervol writes:

in response to toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years:

Never thought I would say this but Bruce left the program worse off then when he got here. I guess lying and playing your son are not the way to a final four.

More clueless than usual. If Bruce simply hadn't gotten stupid, we were headed to a Final Four. But let's look at what he did do while he was here:

-Multiple Sweet 16 appearances
-An Elite 8 appearance
-National presence like UT basketball has NEVER had.

Face facts. If someone had come to UT fans prior to Pearl coming and they said we'd do all that he accomplished over six years but, at the end, we were going to have to be on probation for a year, I guarantee you 90% of the UT faithful would have jumped at that deal. We wandered in the Wilderness for 30 years in men's b-ball and Bruce led us out of it. Period. But all good things come to an end sooner or later and it's now up to Coach Martin to continue it. We shall see if he's up to the task.

Come back when you can say something intelligent.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to TheKentuckyEffect:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TROLL!!!! just kidding I knew that though when I posted... Kentucky's always been "loaded". Even when we've beaten them. Hahllggulp!! Sorry, I get excited when I think about them losing.

JudgeandJury writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Gooooooooo VOLS! Beat Kentucky!!

I wouldn't hold my breath. Maybe you should start out by saying "Beat UTC". The Vol's roster is not loaded with 5 star recruits. Tennessee is not going to beat Kentucky.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to JudgeandJury:

I wouldn't hold my breath. Maybe you should start out by saying "Beat UTC". The Vol's roster is not loaded with 5 star recruits. Tennessee is not going to beat Kentucky.

All I can say to that is that it is a good thing ball games are played on the court rather than on chat boards. You say UK has more good players than UT? Big whoop. How many times in the last, oh, 75 years has that NOT been the case? Three times? Six? Yet UT has more victories all-time over UK than any other SEC school. UT may not beat UK this year, but they surely HAVE beaten them when the talent gap has been as large as this year's seems to be.

Who knows, this year's Vol team might make some history. The thing is, when UT beats UK it is news; when UK beats UT it's only what everybody expected. Kinda like UT v. UK in football, only in reverse.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

TROLL!!!! just kidding I knew that though when I posted... Kentucky's always been "loaded". Even when we've beaten them. Hahllggulp!! Sorry, I get excited when I think about them losing.

Sorry, moc! As is often the case, you say what I was thinking, only in fewer and often more entertaining words!

Franktown writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What was the last year Mears coached? UT has only beaten UK 4 times in 21 tries over the past 10 years, and probably had better talent than UK Pearl's first four years.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

BTW UTC's lookin' pretty tough this year. WhooooooOOWeeeeee UTC!! This is the year we make it back to Sweetdom!! Haaalllggghhhulp!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

sorry.

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