Polls aren't popular these days with Tennessee, which is understandable since the Lady Vols are at a low ebb in the national rankings at No. 24.
But there is one women's basketball ranking that's raising hopes, along with UT's stature. The All-Star Girls Report ranks Tennessee's three-player signing class of Mercedes Russell, Jannah Tucker and Jordan Reynolds at No. 2 nationally, trailing only North Carolina.
"I hope it holds true,'' Lady Vols assistant coach Dean Lockwood said.
Tennessee missed out on a significant addition on Friday when guard Tyler Scaife from Little Rock, Ark., announced that she was signing with Rutgers. No matter, the prevailing mood in UT's camp matches the lofty perception of their signees.
We had three big, big signees, and I'm excited about all of them," first-year head coach Holly Warlick said in a UT release.
Lockwood said that Russell, a 6-foot-6 center from Springfield, Ore., Tucker, a 6-0 wing from Randallstown, Md., and Reynolds, a 5-11 guard from Portland have been "on our wish list even since we first saw them."
"We think they're three winners in every way," he said. "They're terrific players. They're people of character. There's a passion for the game. There's a work ethic there."
The signing class reflects favorably on Warlick, a career assistant who's replaced legendary coach Pat Summitt. Warlick said the class is a tribute to Summitt's legacy and Warlick's staff, which she thinks can convey UT's tradition to recruits.
"I think I have the people in place, they understand that and they understand how to sell it," Warlick said.
In this case, even someone who's not in place helped. Former Lady Vol Niya Butts, who's the head coach at Arizona, called former UT assistant Mickie DeMoss about Russell, then a sophomore. She eventually blossomed into the top-ranked player in the Class of 2013.
"She called and said something to the effect, 'this is a kid we can't get but you guys should know about her,' " Lockwood said.
Along with the high spirits, there's also a sense of relief on UT's part. The class required considerable work. The coaches had to re-recruit Tucker in late October after her father, Robert, admitted to overreacting to "blatantly false and misleading information from the outside."
Patience was at a premium with Russell not deciding until Oct. 30 and Reynolds announcing on Nov. 2.
"We felt good about our processes and how we were doing it," Lockwood said. "Were we concerned? No question."