Cuonzo Martin wants to meet with Kevin Ware before granting release

Cuonzo Martin speaks during his introduction as the new University of Tennessee men's basketball coach on Monday, March 28, 2010.

Photo by Chad Greene

Cuonzo Martin speaks during his introduction as the new University of Tennessee men's basketball coach on Monday, March 28, 2010.

Tennessee men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin said Wednesday that if signee Kevin Ware still wants a release after visiting with him, he'll grant it.

“The key is sitting down with him, and if he wants his release, we move forward with that,'' said Martin, who was hired on Sunday. “You want to do what's best for the young man. If he's unhappy, it won't work for him.''

Ware, a 6-foot-4 guard from Rockdale County High School in Conyers, Ga., is ranked as the No. 56 player in the nation by Rivals.com.

Over the past week, Ware has waivered on his intention to play for the Vols.

Ware said on March 21 that he wanted a release from his National Letter of Intent after Bruce Pearl was fired.

On March 23, Ware posted on his Twitter account that he was a “VFL” - Vol For Life – and told the News Sentinel there was more to his decision to play at UT than just basketball.

"As long as they hire a good coach I can trust, I'll want to be at Tennessee,'' Ware said at the time.

Most recently, Ware sent the following text message to the News Sentinel on Tuesday:

“At this point I do want out because I've still yet to be contacted by (Vols athletic director) Mike Hamilton....I feel like I'm being forced to still be signed to Tennessee....I'm trying to do what's best for me and I know nothing about (Martin)...I been faithfully a Volunteer for two going on three years now.''

Martin said the reason Hamilton hasn't granted the release yet is because Hamilton wants to give Martin an opportunity to talk with him so Ware can make an informed decision.

“Mike wants to give me at least an opportunity to talk to him,'' Martin said.

The Vols other signee in the Class of 2011 is guard Chris Jones. Jones, ranked 39th nationally by Rivals.com, is back attending Melrose High School in Memphis after attending two North Carolina prep schools this school year.

Martin said he has spoken with Jones, too, who also asked to be released from this National Letter of Intent, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

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Comments » 110

jmatt62 writes:

Let's check CM's talent right away. This will be the first test.

PermaVol124 writes:

you know, i dont see how tennessee is going to make it through this... i foresee at least 10 years of monotony. i like this Martin guy and i support him, but, if we lose both these guys and if scotty and tobias both go to the draft... were going to be up a river of excrement without a means of propulsion.

westknoxrepub writes:

This is a bad sign. You HAVE to keep these kids.

Ironcity writes:

in response to PermaVol124:

you know, i dont see how tennessee is going to make it through this... i foresee at least 10 years of monotony. i like this Martin guy and i support him, but, if we lose both these guys and if scotty and tobias both go to the draft... were going to be up a river of excrement without a means of propulsion.

This is Martins first big test. Will see what happens. Understand just because these guys may not come (I would love Jones to be on campus next year), doesn't mean we don't pick up some additional prospects. Look Ga Tech, Ark, Missouri are going through the same thing. Additionally freshman can have a huge impact in college basketball. Much more so then in college football. I think this can be a set back but if the NCAA takes it easy on us and Hammy made the right choice (we shall see), this will be more of a blip then a 10 year issue. If Martin is not the right choice or if the NCAA hammers us because Auburn has paid every player on their team $1000's of dollars (seems thats how they work), then yes, get ready for some lean years.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to Ironcity:

This is Martins first big test. Will see what happens. Understand just because these guys may not come (I would love Jones to be on campus next year), doesn't mean we don't pick up some additional prospects. Look Ga Tech, Ark, Missouri are going through the same thing. Additionally freshman can have a huge impact in college basketball. Much more so then in college football. I think this can be a set back but if the NCAA takes it easy on us and Hammy made the right choice (we shall see), this will be more of a blip then a 10 year issue. If Martin is not the right choice or if the NCAA hammers us because Auburn has paid every player on their team $1000's of dollars (seems thats how they work), then yes, get ready for some lean years.

If we don't get hammered, which I don't think we will, we SHOULD be fine. But if he cannot keep these kids it's a bad sign about his recruiting ability. We're losing alot, and if he doesn't win next year and we don't get sanctions beyond one or two scholarship losses, then we may have made the wrong choice. Four years is the MOST he gets and if he's not winning he's gone.

dvhill100 writes:

This is a test, but not a critical one. These players were coming to UT because of BP. They had it in their minds they would play for him. They don't know anything about this new coach. It's completely reasonable for both sides to not do anything until the recruits meet with the new coach. If he can't convince them to play for him, then so be it.

volsfan74 writes:

1st - How is this CCM first test? We can not expect him to have one face to face with Ware and it change Ware's decision. 2nd - B-ball is different than Football you can rebuild in 2 yrs and year 3 have a really good team and that's my expectations. I was a Pearl supporter BUT the problems we will go through the next couple years is on Pearls shoulders NOT CCM! If Scotty and Tobias leave and Ware and Jones don't sign I think you will see us load up on JUCO players.

FearlessFreep writes:

Everyone seems to be forgetting that it's just as much of a test for CCM to see if he wants these players in his program. Great talent doesn't mean you'll automatically fit what the coach is trying to do, both from a basketball perspective and personally. CCM has already said he wants kids who are in it for the long haul - no one-and-done types. He wants good character guys as well as talented players.
There are some kids you let go and some you don't. But until he meets with them, he won't know.

Einstein writes:

in response to PermaVol124:

you know, i dont see how tennessee is going to make it through this... i foresee at least 10 years of monotony. i like this Martin guy and i support him, but, if we lose both these guys and if scotty and tobias both go to the draft... were going to be up a river of excrement without a means of propulsion.

Tennessee mens basketball is in big time trouble. We will probably lose Hobson and Harris plus the 2 committed recruits and the others that are considering Tennessee. Our post players next year will be Maymon and Hall. Scary isn't it.

TNVol71 writes:

I would love to see Ware, Jones, Harris, and Hopson all wearing UT Orange in TBA next year. With the number of graduating seniors we have, UT provides a great opportunity to start as freshmen. Hang in there, guys, and give Coach Martin a chance. Who knows, he may take all of your skills to new heights!! GBO!!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

It is what it is...It is NOT Martin's fault if these kids don't come here! However if he does keep them I'll be impressed. UT is still a great place and they'd do well here. I suspect they'd both get a lot of minutes immediately...maybe

calvolfromkingsport writes:

This guy is a class act. It may not happen next year, but steady and strong always wins the race. Got a feeling his team will surprise on the upside, no matter who is still there or who comes in.Heck, Gonzaga and Butler always seem to get character players without all those "high" prep ratings and excel.Bruce was crazy fun, but adrenaline only goes so far and so long. Hamilton reminds me of a craps shooter. As long as he knows when to walk away from the table he'll probably survive this.

allvols4life writes:

in response to FearlessFreep:

Everyone seems to be forgetting that it's just as much of a test for CCM to see if he wants these players in his program. Great talent doesn't mean you'll automatically fit what the coach is trying to do, both from a basketball perspective and personally. CCM has already said he wants kids who are in it for the long haul - no one-and-done types. He wants good character guys as well as talented players.
There are some kids you let go and some you don't. But until he meets with them, he won't know.

If Martin really said that he does not want to go after the "one-and-done types" then we can forget competing at a high level consistently. You have to at the least attempt to lure some of those guys to your school to be competitive at the highest level. My opinion.

FWBVol writes:

We have to remember that it's not just a head coach the recruits build a relationship with, it's also the assistant coaches. That's why, when possible, I think it's always a good idea to retain at least one assistant from the previous staff.

As others have said, I don't think this situation with Kevin Ware or Chris Jones will make or break the long term future of UT basketball. Yes, if they don't sign it could make the short term a little tougher, but I don't want guys on the team that don't want to wear the Orange.

This is why we have to be patient with CCM. It may take a few years to recover from the fall out left from Pearl's problems with the NCAA, but in time we will be OK.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Einstein:

Tennessee mens basketball is in big time trouble. We will probably lose Hobson and Harris plus the 2 committed recruits and the others that are considering Tennessee. Our post players next year will be Maymon and Hall. Scary isn't it.

I missed the Hobson kid....What position did he play????

Outdated writes:

Martin has no choice but to state exactly what he has stated..it shows he can be trusted to act in the best interest of these and future recruits..We need these guys but they need to want to be here..

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to tennrich1:

I missed the Hobson kid....What position did he play????

Well Tennrich since you want to be critical...my problem with "Einstein" is not his misspelling of HoPson but his lavk of a ? at the end of his last sentence!!!??????????lol

mocsandvolsfan writes:

OOOOOOppppssss! lack not lavk!!!????????

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Outdated:

Martin has no choice but to state exactly what he has stated..it shows he can be trusted to act in the best interest of these and future recruits..We need these guys but they need to want to be here..

Very very good!

VOL1972 writes:

Just before Martin was hired, Hopson, Harris, Jones and Ware all sounded like they were on board although Harris sounded like he hadn't ruled out going pro. Now it sounds like Hopson and Harris are leaning toward leaving and the other two want out of their LOI's. Expecting Pearl to help close the deal on these guys is about the most naive thing I have ever heard.

I'm surprised. Make no mistake, this is a test for Martin and it doesn't look like he's doing well out of the blocks. Hope the tone changes in the next couple of weeks, but if it doesn't then we just have to hope Martin can coach better than he can recruit.

JohnnyU writes:

Not a big Hamilton fan right now but I don't see where it's incumbent upon him to call signees. He hired a coach who will be talking to the them soon. Hopefully CCM can keep them in the fold. It's a shame, though, that we're in this mode of picking up pieces.

GoVols025 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

If we don't get hammered, which I don't think we will, we SHOULD be fine. But if he cannot keep these kids it's a bad sign about his recruiting ability. We're losing alot, and if he doesn't win next year and we don't get sanctions beyond one or two scholarship losses, then we may have made the wrong choice. Four years is the MOST he gets and if he's not winning he's gone.

Absolute nonsense.

VolBy3 writes:

in response to PermaVol124:

you know, i dont see how tennessee is going to make it through this... i foresee at least 10 years of monotony. i like this Martin guy and i support him, but, if we lose both these guys and if scotty and tobias both go to the draft... were going to be up a river of excrement without a means of propulsion.

More negative waves Moriarty, more negative waves.

Outdated writes:

in response to tennrich1:

I missed the Hobson kid....What position did he play????

Hall has made a lot of progress and may well step up..He has the skills to do it..Maymon is a strong rebounder and it sounds like Martin is going to demand defense and rebounding..the position Hopson played was only offense..he has no idea how to play defense and the only time he rebounds if it is uncontested..any worry he could play in the NBA is ????...if Martin can make an NBA player out of Hopson he is a genius....
I do think we will be more competitive next year than most think because of what I'm hearing from Martin about defense and rebounding...McRae looks like he could be outstanding...

hueypilot writes:

Everybody's got an opinion. Mine is Jones and Ware are not make or break deals. They fit BP's scheme of things, and he fit their idea of a coach and a system where they'd like to play. If it doesn't work the same way with CM(everytime I type that I think of C M Newton) it's not good for them or the Vols.
Likewise the deal with Harris and Hopson. My guess is Hopson will have to change attitudinally and neither is ready to play defense at the next level. D is supposedly CM's strong suit, all the more reason they might stay around, unless they just decide they don't like him. It is a process, it will take a little time, but if he could bring a Missouri St team in here and only lose by 4 while suffering a double digit deficit at the foul line, then I don't think we need to worry.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to Einstein:

Tennessee mens basketball is in big time trouble. We will probably lose Hobson and Harris plus the 2 committed recruits and the others that are considering Tennessee. Our post players next year will be Maymon and Hall. Scary isn't it.

Please note that Pearl did not recruit or sign a post player in this years class Ware and Jones are guards I was worried about our low post regardless. On a positive maybe CCM can develop Maymon and Hall, they didn't improve under Pearls coaching.

GoVols025 writes:

in response to VOL1972:

Just before Martin was hired, Hopson, Harris, Jones and Ware all sounded like they were on board although Harris sounded like he hadn't ruled out going pro. Now it sounds like Hopson and Harris are leaning toward leaving and the other two want out of their LOI's. Expecting Pearl to help close the deal on these guys is about the most naive thing I have ever heard.

I'm surprised. Make no mistake, this is a test for Martin and it doesn't look like he's doing well out of the blocks. Hope the tone changes in the next couple of weeks, but if it doesn't then we just have to hope Martin can coach better than he can recruit.

Keeping Hopson, Harris, Jones and Ware has nothing to do with Martin's ability to recruit.

mcdavidscott#1395557 writes:

well i hate to say this but i think ive been saying it from the very first day i made my self a new member of this site.but i said we needed to get rid of mike hamilton,i said it was not a good ideal to get rid of the coach bruce pearl.and i also said we need to find a big time coach,we have done niether of that ive mentioned.GET READY HERE IT COMES VOL NATION MIKE HAS DONE IT.HIRED THE WRONG COACH,FIRED THE RIGHT COACH,NOW COMES NCAA,AND NOW GOES TOP RECRUITS AND THE ONES WE ALLREADY HAVE THATS BEEN PLAYING FOR US.OH GOD PLEASE HELP THIS UNIVERSITY STOP THE BLEEDING!!!!

VolBy3 writes:

in response to volsfan74:

1st - How is this CCM first test? We can not expect him to have one face to face with Ware and it change Ware's decision. 2nd - B-ball is different than Football you can rebuild in 2 yrs and year 3 have a really good team and that's my expectations. I was a Pearl supporter BUT the problems we will go through the next couple years is on Pearls shoulders NOT CCM! If Scotty and Tobias leave and Ware and Jones don't sign I think you will see us load up on JUCO players.

You're probably still a Bush blamer also. I think CCM is man enough to never go there. The ball has changed hands. We go from here with what we got and work hard to get better. No problems in the next couple of years, just challenges that all schools have and that CCM will see us through.

Go Vols!

VolBy3 writes:

in response to Einstein:

Tennessee mens basketball is in big time trouble. We will probably lose Hobson and Harris plus the 2 committed recruits and the others that are considering Tennessee. Our post players next year will be Maymon and Hall. Scary isn't it.

More negative waves!

Pullingguard writes:

Both of these players announced their desire to play elsewhere soon as Pearl was fired. Regardless of whom UT hired it would be no difference, the desire is to change, so lets see how Martin makes out with the young men. Having never met them before its gonna be a challenge to keep them on board.. But also playing into this is the cloud hanging over UT with the NCAA which no player wants to be under.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to VolBy3:

You're probably still a Bush blamer also. I think CCM is man enough to never go there. The ball has changed hands. We go from here with what we got and work hard to get better. No problems in the next couple of years, just challenges that all schools have and that CCM will see us through.

Go Vols!

I just googled idiot and VolBy3 popped up. This is not a political site BUT I am a Bush supporter. But to say there will not be ANY problems when we have a date with the NCAA in June. Problems or Challenges what is the freaking difference? I fully support CCM and I just don't want fans to turn on him if he doesn't win 20+ games next year! I never said CCM would ACTUALLY blame Pearl but the reality is any attrition do to NBA bound players and recruit transfers and NCAA sanctions has to be taken into consideration and CCM can not be held accountable for the problems/ challenges it may cause.

CoverOrange writes:

Why, after a week since Bruce was fired, has Hamilton not called Ware and Jones? Has Martin called either of them? Is this another case of VIP recruits being left to twist in the wind as coaches and ADs talk to the media all day every day but not to the people they need to talk with?

VolBy3 writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Everybody's got an opinion. Mine is Jones and Ware are not make or break deals. They fit BP's scheme of things, and he fit their idea of a coach and a system where they'd like to play. If it doesn't work the same way with CM(everytime I type that I think of C M Newton) it's not good for them or the Vols.
Likewise the deal with Harris and Hopson. My guess is Hopson will have to change attitudinally and neither is ready to play defense at the next level. D is supposedly CM's strong suit, all the more reason they might stay around, unless they just decide they don't like him. It is a process, it will take a little time, but if he could bring a Missouri St team in here and only lose by 4 while suffering a double digit deficit at the foul line, then I don't think we need to worry.

Great post!

"attitudinally" not sure if its a word, but I like it!

BillyVol writes:

You can make a horse go to the water hole, but you can't make them drink. If a player does not want to play for a new coach, then he is not VFL material.
I get it, don't understand why most of you don't. Yes, we will be hurt for a couple years. Coach Martin will build a great team without this sites help. You can attempt to misguide others, but you can't me.

tdvol1989 writes:

Well, it would great to keep them and based on what I have seen, he should make a good impression. But 2 things to consider.

First, they may not be his type of player.

Second, this may be a wait and see thing. It may be an all or none deal. If Harris leaves, then Hopson may want to leave, with those guys going the signees may sense a sinking ship, which could lead to Golden or McCrae leaving. That is the doomsday scenario because it is too late to recruit, but I am guessing there is a lot of wait and seeing going on. Jones may base his decision off of Ware, etc.

I remember the worst year ever of UT BBall. O'Neill was the coach. It seemed like we had 7 players and our most promising young talent was Alico Dunk. There was a game with Vandy and the score was maybe 17-15 at half-time. We were horrible. It could go there.

But, he could bring all these guys back. Add the discipline to the talent and field a surprising team. That would really help his first recruiting year. I am hoping this is what happens.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to GoVols025:

Keeping Hopson, Harris, Jones and Ware has nothing to do with Martin's ability to recruit.

How so?

vet4ut writes:

in response to GoVols025:

Absolute nonsense.

Agreed. To gauge 'Zo based on re-recruiting 2 players that he's never met is a little harsh.
Yes, if all 4 players in question come to/stay at UT, then we will have a competitive team next year. If not, we probably won't.
But bball isn't football. 1 year's recruiting class can make a substantial difference in the team's talent and record.
Since we don't know what will happen with the NCAA and the above mentioned issues are present, ANY coach we hired would have the same concerns.

vet4ut writes:

in response to jakethevolguy:

How so?

Tobias is considered a mid to late 1st round pick and his dad is an ex NBA agent.
Scotty was talking about going pro after the SC game in Columbia.
Ware has gone back and forth about staying even before we hired Zo.
Jones won't even qualify and will have to go the JC route.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to GoVols025:

Keeping Hopson, Harris, Jones and Ware has nothing to do with Martin's ability to recruit.

AGREED! AGREED! AGREED! You get it!

VolBy3 writes:

in response to mcdavidscott#1395557:

well i hate to say this but i think ive been saying it from the very first day i made my self a new member of this site.but i said we needed to get rid of mike hamilton,i said it was not a good ideal to get rid of the coach bruce pearl.and i also said we need to find a big time coach,we have done niether of that ive mentioned.GET READY HERE IT COMES VOL NATION MIKE HAS DONE IT.HIRED THE WRONG COACH,FIRED THE RIGHT COACH,NOW COMES NCAA,AND NOW GOES TOP RECRUITS AND THE ONES WE ALLREADY HAVE THATS BEEN PLAYING FOR US.OH GOD PLEASE HELP THIS UNIVERSITY STOP THE BLEEDING!!!!

Calm down DS.
All will be well in Volville. If you went back and read all the posts from 6 years ago..... wait, you don't have to! Just read all the current posts and substitute CBP everywhere you see CCM and they will read the same as 2005. Many of these supposed Vol fans have such short memories.

We shall return.

vet4ut writes:

in response to mcdavidscott#1395557:

well i hate to say this but i think ive been saying it from the very first day i made my self a new member of this site.but i said we needed to get rid of mike hamilton,i said it was not a good ideal to get rid of the coach bruce pearl.and i also said we need to find a big time coach,we have done niether of that ive mentioned.GET READY HERE IT COMES VOL NATION MIKE HAS DONE IT.HIRED THE WRONG COACH,FIRED THE RIGHT COACH,NOW COMES NCAA,AND NOW GOES TOP RECRUITS AND THE ONES WE ALLREADY HAVE THATS BEEN PLAYING FOR US.OH GOD PLEASE HELP THIS UNIVERSITY STOP THE BLEEDING!!!!

One word...

"SYNTAX"

hueypilot writes:

in response to VolBy3:

Great post!

"attitudinally" not sure if its a word, but I like it!

Thanks VolBy3. Actually, it is. Merriam Webster says: attitudinal, adj.
relating to, based on, or expressive of personal attitudes or feelings <attitudinal judgment>
— attitudinally, adverb

VOL1972 writes:

in response to GoVols025:

Keeping Hopson, Harris, Jones and Ware has nothing to do with Martin's ability to recruit.

Then what ability does it have to do with? He might not want any of them any way, but if he does, he has to sell them on playing at UT for him. I would call that recruiting.

hueypilot writes:

BTW, while I'm sure Ware and Jones are good players, No. 56 and No. 39 probably wouldn't rate more than a form letter from Kentucky, Kansas or Duke. It's not like we'd be letting the next MJ get away. As we have seen from Butler, VCU, Richmond, and Gonzaga, there are plenty of good basketball players out there. Only a few Kimba Walker's and J. Fredette's.

VolBy3 writes:

in response to volsfan74:

I just googled idiot and VolBy3 popped up. This is not a political site BUT I am a Bush supporter. But to say there will not be ANY problems when we have a date with the NCAA in June. Problems or Challenges what is the freaking difference? I fully support CCM and I just don't want fans to turn on him if he doesn't win 20+ games next year! I never said CCM would ACTUALLY blame Pearl but the reality is any attrition do to NBA bound players and recruit transfers and NCAA sanctions has to be taken into consideration and CCM can not be held accountable for the problems/ challenges it may cause.

Well said 74,
It's nice to see I'm finally relavent on Google!
Deep down it looks like we are much alike and believe the same things but use different vocabularies. Didn't mean to get your mojo up. Nice to see fans with spirit!

theoldbear writes:

Everybody's got an opinion. I might as well air mine.

These two recruits are comparable talent-wise to the two junior recruits at that ill-fated cook-out at the Pearl's.

The Vols might have been better with them, but did OK without them. Transfers and juco players (Bone, Goins) did indeed take up the slack.

Hopson needs to go. He'll play in Italy, Turkey, Israel, but Coach Martin has more NBA games than he will ever have.

Harris going or staying was going to be problematic with or without Pearl, with or without Martin. I think his ambition was to come here, win an NCAA championship, and then go NBA.

This year's team was the best shot the Vols have ever had at an NCAA championship. Had they played to their potential they would have still been playing this week.

It will be a while before they come that close again. Is Coach Martin the one to lead the Vols there? Who can say? But with Pearl, we would not have had a chance for a few years to come, due to sanctions that still will bite us.

GoVols025 writes:

in response to VOL1972:

Then what ability does it have to do with? He might not want any of them any way, but if he does, he has to sell them on playing at UT for him. I would call that recruiting.

These kids "signed" to play for Pearl after they built a relationship with Pearl and his staff over months and years. And now some of you guys claim that if Martin can not transfer that loyalty to him in a matter of days he's a failure at recruiting?

Dooley said it best over a year ago. Something like "He's in the business of recruiting, no re-recruiting." If the kids don't want to be at UT and play for Martin, there's not a whole lot Martin can do about it in the next few days.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to BillyVol:

You can make a horse go to the water hole, but you can't make them drink. If a player does not want to play for a new coach, then he is not VFL material.
I get it, don't understand why most of you don't. Yes, we will be hurt for a couple years. Coach Martin will build a great team without this sites help. You can attempt to misguide others, but you can't me.

A couple of years won't be good enough, we replaced a guy who went to the NCAA six straight years, anything less is a disappointing season now, or at least SHOULD be.

VolAtUGA11 writes:

I don't see how this is life or death or even a test. Anybody remember Tyler Smith? Bruce didn't get him (at least at first) and the sky didn't fall then. Give Coach Martin a chance, both to keep Pearl's kids and to get his own.

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