No. 1 recruit Mercedes Russell picks Tennessee

Mercedes Russell

Mercedes Russell

Passing the baton: Lady Vols carrying on tradition

Photo with no caption

One big announcement by Mercedes Russell was followed by two distinct emotions.

"I'm relieved and excited," said the 6-foot-5 center from Springfield (Ore.) High School. "I'm relieved to have the process done and I'm excited to be a Lady Vol."

Russell, the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2013 according to ESPN HoopGurlz, chose Tennessee over Louisville, keeping her decision largely a secret until announcing her intentions at a school assembly Tuesday afternoon. She will sign a letter of intent with UT in the early signing period, which begins Nov. 14.

Russell did inform the Tennessee coaches of her choice on Monday night, calling them in their office at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"They started jumping and screaming," she said. "They were very excited."

Russell's choice amounts to a major endorsement of Lady Vols' first-year coach Holly Warlick and her staff. They stayed the recruiting course with Russell through a major coaching transition last spring, when UT legend Pat Summitt stepped down after 38 seasons.

Russell was the Class 5A player of the year in the state of Oregon last season after leading Springfield to a second consecutive state championship. She averaged 26 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and five assists per game.

In August, she played for the U.S. team that won a gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championships. She averaged 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and shot a tournament-best 64 percent from the floor.

Russell's commitment also was significant for addressing Tennessee's biggest recruiting need, which was adding post players to its ranks.

Russell said that the switch from Summitt to Warlick wasn't much of a factor in her choice. Assistant Dean Lockwood, a holdover from last season, had recruited her the longest. Furthermore, Russell developed a rapport with new assistants Kyra Elzy and Jolette Law.

Springfield coach Bill Wagner counts Warlick's 27 years as a UT assistant prior to her promotion as credibility.

"Holly has been so much a part of Tennessee, the history and tradition is still there,'' he said. "They're not taking those eight (national championship) banners down. I think (Mercedes) would love to play a part in getting them some company."

Wagner thinks that Tennessee separated itself in the recruiting process with its in-home visit in September.

"They knocked it out of the park,'' he said. "They had a complete breakdown of how they would use her and how she would fit into their program.

"You can't compare with the success they've had with players who play a similar position."

Russell joins Jannah Tucker as a UT commitment. Tucker, a 6-0 guard who's ranked No. 8 in the class, re-committed to

Tennessee last Saturday.

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Comments » 86

buzz29 writes:

Welcome aboard Mercedes!

Titan writes:

Mercedes - Welcome to the home of champions. Holly & staff - great start to maintaining the tradition of the Lady Vols.

Absolutely fantastic news.

CaliVOL2 writes:

Fantastic start Holly! Welcome aboard Miss Russell! Can't wait to see you play for the Big Orange. Bring us our 9th title!!!

iadvol writes:

Bryce Brown...hello?? and you know how that turned out!

bigdisbig writes:

in response to carbonatedmilk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When we get a coach who can win in the SEC.

CharlesM writes:

in response to carbonatedmilk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bryce Brown, 2009

Titan writes:

in response to carbonatedmilk:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When can we confine comments to the subject of the story?

jt45 writes:

Definitely some good news for the Lady Vols, this could help pull in a few more also.

RockyTop1_old writes:

WOW!!! LADY VOLS YOU ARE GREAT, now let's get the rest of the class in the fold and start looking for the next Banner to hang!!

John_10065 writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

When we get a coach who can win in the SEC.

Both you clowns need to appreciate the magnitude of this commitment and STFU.

richvol writes:

Great,great news. Way to go Holly...now get Davis for the trifecta.

mdvol writes:

Can she by chance play tailback? Or DB? LOL!

Yep...we are a basketball school now.

BxVol writes:

Great news,great choice by Mercedes, and wishing her all the best.Welcome to the University of Tennessee!

PeytonWM18 writes:

Welcome to the Lady Vol family, Mercedes. You'll be on hallowed ground previously occupied by all-time greats the likes of Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker.

Congrats, Holly! What a great way to begin your tenure at UTK.

Go Lady Vols!

trailtrotter writes:

in response to buzz29:

Welcome aboard Mercedes!

That's so very awesome!! Welcome and best of luck!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Wow, that's awesome news..Welcome to the hill young Lady..GLV!!

VOLsince68 writes:

Awesome news!!!

Those of you bringing up football, please take it somewhere else and let us enjoy this great moment for a while.

GBO VFL!!!!

volahoma writes:

Woo Hoo!!!

vol98champ writes:

in response to John_10065:

Both you clowns need to appreciate the magnitude of this commitment and STFU.

Best post I have seen here in weeks.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

exlineman writes:

in response to vol98champ:

Best post I have seen here in weeks.

I totally agree with you. This lady has the credentials and size, as well as being a very pretty lady. Hopefully she will bring other great athletes like herself to our program.

RockyTFrustrated writes:

in response to John_10065:

Both you clowns need to appreciate the magnitude of this commitment and STFU.

John, I'd go to war with ya man! Right on! Rock on!

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Still great to be a Tennessee Vol! Welcome to Rockytop Mercedes!

lemme_axya_this writes:

I predict a couple more banners for the Lady Vols, starting next year. The Griner dude will be gone and title will be up for grabs again.

dbc5361 writes:

Women still play basketball? ESPN Hoop Gurlz? Lmao

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

Big news for a program that just lost its legend. Fantastic stuff.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

in response to dbc5361:

Women still play basketball? ESPN Hoop Gurlz? Lmao

Just when you thought the real knuckle-draggers wouldn't show up, dbc5361 disappoints yet again. Congratulations. Now, go away.

Welcome, Mercedes. You've chosen the program with the greatest tradition in the history of the game. With your help, we'll continue that tradition and I will be watching. Can't wait to see you in orange!

volaholic45 writes:

Great get for Holly. A big step in the right direction.

Now, if we can see some good play and signs of good coaching on the floor, she should be on her way to continuing Pat's legacy with a new chapter of her own.

UT2006 writes:

promising start to the new era in women's bball... best of luck Coach Warlick

BigOrangeSports writes:

Holly ain't holding back. Nice. Welcome Mercedes and Jannah.

GO Lady Vols

tnluv2play writes:

All right!!!!!!!!!!

oldbasshead writes:

Thanks Mercedes for picking UT. With your help, more national championships are in our future.

south_alabama_vol writes:

Take that, Geno

terrytennessee writes:

in response to John_10065:

Both you clowns need to appreciate the magnitude of this commitment and STFU.

Preach on, brother, you are on the money.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Three cheers for our recruiting coordinator!!! I have a strong feeling that more good news is coming.

Einstein writes:

Great news. Now Men's and Women's Basketball can make us forget about football or whatever that is that they are playing on the gridiron.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you had just made an Ahole out of yourself, would you want to be heard from? That was the best way possible to silence an idiot like WCBB.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Great news. Congratulations Mercedes on your decision. Can't wait to see you in Orange. Work hard, and stay healthy.

You'll soon learn to ignore the trolls here on this site if you should ever visit it. We have some of the best fans you'll ever see, and unfortunately......a few trolls and gripers who always try to ruin things for the rest of us.

Go Vols and Lady Vols

gwbask writes:

Big Big Big!!! Way to go Coach Holly... Welcome to UT Mercedes!!!!

miatatom writes:

I think I hear the Sonny & Cher recording in the background, "and the beat goes on". Way to go Holly!

martic#220796 writes:

in response to PeytonWM18:

Welcome to the Lady Vol family, Mercedes. You'll be on hallowed ground previously occupied by all-time greats the likes of Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker.

Congrats, Holly! What a great way to begin your tenure at UTK.

Go Lady Vols!

Don't forget about Holdzclaw in that equasion. Looking forward to seeing this young lady play. Hope she stays healthy. She'll be filling a big need for us. Let's keep it going LV's!!!!

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

Great news for Lady Vols program. Way to go Holly!

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

Just returned home and logged on right away to learn of her choice, and gotta admit, with all the heartbreaking disappointments involving UT football, I had honestly conditioned myself to expect Louisville to be the most fortunate beneficiary of her choice. I've long been a fan of Summit and the Lady Vol program, and while most, if not all, of the other athletic programs failed to achieve the ultimate prize, I could always count on LVBB to represent Tenn proudly. One of my favorite photos is a shot of my family with all of my grandkids at the '08 regional championship game in Dayton the week before they went to Cleveland and won it all. I want to extend a most heartfelt welcome to Mercedes, Jannah, and all of the other outstanding young women who have chosen, or are yet to choose, to carry on the proud tradition that is LVBB. What a grand affirmation of the current coaching staff's ability to seal the deal with the best of the bunch and here's to hanging another NC banner before I die!

butch31 writes:

in response to dbc5361:

Women still play basketball? ESPN Hoop Gurlz? Lmao

Losers still post on public websites, with absolutely nothing positive to share...go figure! Romnesia is contagious...LOL

movinonup writes:

My daughter's high school career ends this year.....guess where I'll be going to see next year and following. Nice start to Holly's head coaching career. Great choice Mercedes - you have the Vol nation behind you----hang those banners, girl !

Katphan29 writes:

I think this is incorrect, the number 1 player is considering UK, particulalry after the #2, 4, and 5 picked UK, so I am not sure that.....oh, we are talking women's hoop.

PureOrange writes:

GREAT!!!

Welcome to UT. We really need you, and you will do great.

Go Lady Vols!!!

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to Katphan29:

I think this is incorrect, the number 1 player is considering UK, particulalry after the #2, 4, and 5 picked UK, so I am not sure that.....oh, we are talking women's hoop.

Why would a Kentucky (probably men's basketball only fan)be posting a comment on a Lady Vols article? Is it because you are a closet Lady Vols fan or you just like to try and stir up s---.

Theo writes:

in response to Katphan29:

I think this is incorrect, the number 1 player is considering UK, particulalry after the #2, 4, and 5 picked UK, so I am not sure that.....oh, we are talking women's hoop.

Yawn. Work on spelling VACATE in your free time. Oh Indiana, Oh Indiana we're all for you IU!

Theo writes:

Wow, wow, wow! Great news - congrats to all the coachs on this wonderful recruit. Welcome to the Hill Mercedes. We know you and Jannah will make us proud on and off the court. Super kids, super players. These two along with the Soph/Fresh on campus already make the future bright. Better be looking for a spot for the next banner.

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