Though he had a 3.9 grade-point average, Brandon Lopez was staring junior college right in the face.
Division I basketball options for the Austin-East High School senior point guard had dried up a few weeks back, and he didn't want to attend a prep school.
But the Tennessee men's basketball staff liked the 6-foot-1 Lopez and offered him a spot as a preferred walk-on.
Lopez officially accepted Monday night. He knew a while back he would do so.
"I just really didn't tell anybody," said Lopez.
He allowed good friend, Central point guard Dre Mathieu, to release the news late Monday night on Twitter. Once the word got out, Lopez finally could release his joy.
"I haven't been this excited in a while," he said. "It's a blessing, the opportunity to play in front of my hometown and friends and family at a university I grew up watching and admiring."
Lopez had a monster senior season, averaging 25.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He was committed to Southern University, but that changed when its coaching staff was cleared out.
Wofford showed interest after the season but landed another point guard.
Lopez started talking with new Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin and assistant Kent Williams about two to three weeks ago.
"Coach Williams came down to watch me work out," said Lopez. "I talked to the (Tennessee coaches). They were friendly. They seemed like they wanted me to come."
Fulton standout Galen Campbell, a 6-3 wing who chose to walk-on at Tennessee under the previous coaching staff, has had talks with the current staff.
"He's like a brother to me," said Lopez. "He's one of my best and closest friends. We played AAU together for three years.
"He knows my style. I know his style. We'll click right off the bat."
Lopez found emotional shelter from a taxing recruiting process from Austin-East coach Charles Mitchell, his mother Barbara Ligon and friends in Team B.O.D. (Ball or Die) - a group of area basketball players committed to putting Knoxville basketball on the map.
Now it's all about solo preparing for college ball.
"I'm getting up shots, probably between 600-800 a day," said Lopez. "I run and lift weights and work on my defense."
Playing in the Pilot Rocky Top League the last two years gave Lopez confidence and a good indication of what to expect from his future teammates and fans.
"I know they're strong and physical," he said. "(But) they would share the ball with me, even though I was still in high school. They were real cool. Real good teammates.
"I liked playing in the Rocky Top League. The fan base was crazy. I could tell they were die-hard Vol fans. That's what I liked about it."