UPDATED: Martin grants Yemi Makanjuola release from Tennessee to transfer

Tennessee center Yemi Makanjuola (0), guard Armani Moore (4) and forward Kenny Hall (20) celebrate a Vols basket as they take on Mississippi State during the second round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Thursday, March 14, 2013. Tennessee won 69-53 over Mississippi State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee center Yemi Makanjuola (0), guard Armani Moore (4) and forward Kenny Hall (20) celebrate a Vols basket as they take on Mississippi State during the second round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Thursday, March 14, 2013. Tennessee won 69-53 over Mississippi State. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee center Yemi Makanjuola has been granted a release from his scholarship and will be transferring from the men’s basketball program, the school announced Saturday morning.

Makanjuola spent two seasons with the Vols, averaging 1.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 8.0 minutes over a 57-game career.

“Yemi and I came to a mutual agreement that it would be in his best interest for him to get a fresh start with a new program,” UT head coach Cuonzo Martin said in a press release. “Yemi is leaving Tennessee on good terms. He’s respected by his teammates and coaches, we all appreciate the work he’s put in during his time here and I’m confident that he’ll be successful.”

At 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, Makanjuola’s primary role with the Vols was adding depth to the frontcourt. He will in essence be replaced by incoming junior college center Rawane “Pops” Ndiaye, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound center from Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College.

Makanjuola’s departure moves UT from two over the NCAA scholarship limit of 13 down to one over. The Vols are still awaiting a decision from rising junior Jarnell Stokes whether he will return to Tennessee or pursue an NBA career. The NBA’s deadline to declare for the draft is April 28.

As a sophomore at UT, Makanjuola averaged 1.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 29 appearances. He drew a team-high 10 defensive charges and grabbed 25 offensive rebounds.

The highlight of Makanjuola’s UT career came in a Dec. 29 win over The Citadel during his freshman campaign. The Lagos, Nigeria native came off the bench to score 18 consecutive points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 13 minutes of action.

According to a UT spokesman, Makanjuola's scholarship release prohibits him from transferring to another SEC school, a standard stipulation.

“The best thing for me right now is to continue to pursue my dream with another school,” Makanjuola said in the UT press release. “I’ll never forget the memories from my time at Tennessee, but I’m also excited about what’s next for me.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 80

bUTch_please writes:

hmm.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

This makes sense, now what's the deal with Stokes?

keepitreal4vols writes:

Yemi avg about the same stats as the new big man we signed from a Iowa community college. So did we really upgrade with this "work in progress" kid with good upside?

ReeseHallRelic writes:

So now we know why Ndiaye was signed. Maybe CCM knows what he's doing... or at least he knows more than his constant detractors think they know.

1vavolfan writes:

Bad news here, UT lost Hall to graduation and who knows about Stokes. Yemi was serviceable backup, I doubt this pops kid is coordinated enough to see the floor against D1 competition.

Bigger_Al writes:

Makes more sense now. If Yemi was going to leave, we needed another big body.

eVOLved writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Yemi avg about the same stats as the new big man we signed from a Iowa community college. So did we really upgrade with this "work in progress" kid with good upside?

I wonder if the coaches do anything more than google stats?

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Bad news here, UT lost Hall to graduation and who knows about Stokes. Yemi was serviceable backup, I doubt this pops kid is coordinated enough to see the floor against D1 competition.

None of us has even seen Ndiaye... but you "know" enough to "doubt" his ability to see the floor. You're wasting your skills: get yourself a D-1 head coaching job!

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Yemi is a great young man. Good luck Yemi.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

Yemi, You were one of my favorite players on the team. I enjoyed watching you play every time you came onto the floor. Your attitude was great and you were a team guy. I wish you nothing but good in the future. Keep your head up, as good things are coming your way!!!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Bad news here, UT lost Hall to graduation and who knows about Stokes. Yemi was serviceable backup, I doubt this pops kid is coordinated enough to see the floor against D1 competition.

Yemi was a great team player, but he was not a 5 at best he was a 4 that couldn't score. This at least makes room for a 3 guard attack with good talent joining the team at the PG&SG. If Reese or another expendable player leave that would give Stokes/Maymon a chance to play the 4 and sometimes the 3 if this center pans out.

bigsteve92 writes:

Magically The Scholarship Problem Is Working Itself Out. So Either Stokes Is Gone Or Someone Else Is Going To Want To All Sudden transfer

volnsc writes:

Yemi, you will always be part of the Vol family. I enjoyed watching you play and wish nothing but the very best for you.

johnlg00 writes:

Hate to see him go. Yemi gave us a lot of good minutes rebounding and on defense. He just seemed to have "hands of stone" which limited him offensively. I'm not sure going elsewhere will cure that. Yemi seems to be a good guy, though, so I surely wish him well.

We may be getting the same kind of thing with Ndiaye. His background suggests to me that, like Yemi, he too took up basketball later than most American kids so his present skills may be lacking, but you just never know when or if a big kid like that will begin to really "get it". But if he does get it anytime soon, this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Hate to see him go. Yemi gave us a lot of good minutes rebounding and on defense. He just seemed to have "hands of stone" which limited him offensively. I'm not sure going elsewhere will cure that. Yemi seems to be a good guy, though, so I surely wish him well.

We may be getting the same kind of thing with Ndiaye. His background suggests to me that, like Yemi, he too took up basketball later than most American kids so his present skills may be lacking, but you just never know when or if a big kid like that will begin to really "get it". But if he does get it anytime soon, this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

He's quite a bit taller/longer than Yemi, and that may help get rebounds and uncontested put-backs. I noticed Yemi and Stokes both were not confident in their ability to shoot over a taller opponent. That forced them to pass the ball to the perimeter many times when they had an uncontested layup in the low post (if they went immediately up after offensively rebounding)..

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I'll miss Yemi and had hopes for him here...but we all know he's not really a center. well neither should Stokes be as well. BUT we have a legitimate center now and I'm content.hehe

Good bye Yemi and God bless whatever you do.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

P.S. UTC could use a big guy...and a coach and an AD.

thevoice writes:

Talent evaluation seems to be an issue for Martin. With Mak leaving and the recent signee coming in, what's the difference?

golfman1975 writes:

Yemi's upside is greater than his downside. All he needed was playing time. Same with Reece..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

P.S. UTC could use a big guy...and a coach and an AD.

Take Martin and Yemi..

xanga writes:

if it wasn't for our debt issues. CCM would be fired after next year but he wont be.UT is bankrupt and we're stuck with 1 and done NIT for the next 6 years.

chattabluetick writes:

Stokes is not ready for NBA. He still has no outside shot from 15-20 ft. range that would be needed to play the small forward. He is probably not going to play power forward. He should return for at least one more if not two more years and work on his game.

67classut writes:

Maybe Yemi had told Martin long ago he wanted to leave for a better opportunity. Yemi was a team player and made contributions. Best of luck, Yemi!

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to xanga:

if it wasn't for our debt issues. CCM would be fired after next year but he wont be.UT is bankrupt and we're stuck with 1 and done NIT for the next 6 years.

Leaving the program in the hands of an intolerable coach would hurt UT more financially than the buyout.

Martin has in no way proven to be intolerable though. They lost... was it 80% of their scoring from Pearl's last year during the coaching transition. Combine that loss of talent with the fact that Martin had no time to recruit better talent than what he was pursuing at Missouri directional....

So basically his first year here there should have been zero expectations but they overachieved.

His second year, your sophomore class, which you normally expect to start recruiting, is full of guys that were never expected to play at this level and your best returning player goes down to injury. They still performed reasonably well.

Point being that Martin was dealt a poor hand. In two recruiting classes you can hold him accountable for, Martin has picked up two five star prospects and a four star in Thompson. Assuming you correctly evaluated a couple guys as effective role players, that is VERY good recruiting.

Basically the only thing I see that you can really criticize him about (aside from roster management which seems to be working itself out) is that Golden seemed to regress some this year.

MemphisMagic writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

Leaving the program in the hands of an intolerable coach would hurt UT more financially than the buyout.

Martin has in no way proven to be intolerable though. They lost... was it 80% of their scoring from Pearl's last year during the coaching transition. Combine that loss of talent with the fact that Martin had no time to recruit better talent than what he was pursuing at Missouri directional....

So basically his first year here there should have been zero expectations but they overachieved.

His second year, your sophomore class, which you normally expect to start recruiting, is full of guys that were never expected to play at this level and your best returning player goes down to injury. They still performed reasonably well.

Point being that Martin was dealt a poor hand. In two recruiting classes you can hold him accountable for, Martin has picked up two five star prospects and a four star in Thompson. Assuming you correctly evaluated a couple guys as effective role players, that is VERY good recruiting.

Basically the only thing I see that you can really criticize him about (aside from roster management which seems to be working itself out) is that Golden seemed to regress some this year.

Thompson is a 3-star. ESPN, Rivals, and 247 rated him 3-stars; Scout unrated.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

Not much of an upgrade here in big men so not sure what to expect now. IF Stokes leaves then we're screwed in the frontcourt and we best figure out a way to go Villanova on the SEC. Villanova has done very well with going with a 4 guard, 1 forward/center alignment. The forward/center was never the most talented post player but could rebound and defend and hustle. The guards were the stars and we may have to resort to that if Maymon is our only returning true post player.

chipmurphy461 writes:

Thanks for your time and enthusiasm Yemi, good luck in your future endeavors. Glad to see some explanation behind the over signing. Martin was dealt a bad hand with Maymon, Jordan, Golden, and Skyler? Bruce left at least those 4, now I'm interested to see how Martin's recruits do this upcoming year.

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to bigsteve92:

Magically The Scholarship Problem Is Working Itself Out. So Either Stokes Is Gone Or Someone Else Is Going To Want To All Sudden transfer

Its not Magic. Its the plan of the head coach. He knows what he's doing.
GO VOLS!

candyland writes:

in response to bUTch_please:

hmm.

Yemi is leaving because there is an order of protection against him for another female student.

jt45 writes:

Good Luck to Yemi, I hope he does well wherever he ends up. Someone on CCMs staff thinks the new big guy is worth a shot. I see no reason to doubt that until proven otherwise. As for Stokes he has a ways to go before he is ready for the next level. I just want to see Stokes and Maymon on the floor working together, but Im not too sure that is going to happen the way things have gone for this squad.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

None of us has even seen Ndiaye... but you "know" enough to "doubt" his ability to see the floor. You're wasting your skills: get yourself a D-1 head coaching job!

The kid averaged 2 pts and 3 reb at a community college! You don't have to be John Wooden to figure out he can't play.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

The kid averaged 2 pts and 3 reb at a community college! You don't have to be John Wooden to figure out he can't play.

Not to trash Yemi, but how much does Ndiaye need to do to fill that void? Yemi averaged less than a bucket a game... so you're sure that Ndiaye can't get one bucket a game without ever having seen him play? And, yes, Yemi gave us some good solid D -- but, again, you have no idea what Ndiaye is like on the defensive end of the court.

But yeah, you're probably qualified to state that Ndiaye isn't coordinated enough to play.

I forget: what was your scoring average for the Vols?

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to MemphisMagic:

Thompson is a 3-star. ESPN, Rivals, and 247 rated him 3-stars; Scout unrated.

i know for a fact they said on the radio he was a four star according to someone, but I'm guessing it was a little known site that has little weight. Regardless, he took visits to Virginia and Vandy too, so UT was hardly the only school looking at him.

They were also in the mix for Austin Nichols. It didn't mean much when you listed guys that Buzz "almost" got because he never did, but Martin has already gotten a pair of five stars.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Take Martin and Yemi..

The mocs would take Martin and Yemi in a second without and without any worries. But honestly I'd love to see Mac Mcarthy back at UTC.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

The mocs would take Martin and Yemi in a second without and without any worries. But honestly I'd love to see Mac Mcarthy back at UTC.

What about Belmont's coach??

volfan2002 writes:

Yemi had two years left the incoming guy has two years an even trade all the way around.

volfan2002 writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Yemi avg about the same stats as the new big man we signed from a Iowa community college. So did we really upgrade with this "work in progress" kid with good upside?

We gained two inches in height otherwise looks like the same player.

volfan2002 writes:

in response to candyland:

Yemi is leaving because there is an order of protection against him for another female student.

Really this could be a huge reason to transfer.

Olcrow writes:

in response to volfan2002:

We gained two inches in height otherwise looks like the same player.

I agree,height is something that can't be coached, the Jr.college player was injured last year,true Yemi gave us some good minutes but I really don't think we lost much.Trust the coach at least so far he can remember where he's at when cooking out.Bruce Pearl here's your sign!

Ironcity writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Bad news here, UT lost Hall to graduation and who knows about Stokes. Yemi was serviceable backup, I doubt this pops kid is coordinated enough to see the floor against D1 competition.

Yemi was not a servicable back up. Martin basically said its was time to move on. Tough for Yemi but he can actually get in a league that he really should have been in initially. Good luck Yemi welcome Pops

Snapshot writes:

I think if you are going to tell the guy to leave, he should be able to transfer any place he wants, in conference or not. That's krap. Make no mistake, it wasn't "by mutual consent".

crmcm44#321757 writes:

Trading down.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Yemi was not a servicable back up. Martin basically said its was time to move on. Tough for Yemi but he can actually get in a league that he really should have been in initially. Good luck Yemi welcome Pops

Yemi had his moments, I was disappointed that he never developed the way he should. I do think if he played for a smaller school like ETSU he could play 35 mpg and put up some decent numbers, can't really say the same about Pops.

Yemi was a difference maker at times, in the Xavier game Stokes couldn't play any defense and Yemi came in and prevented any points in the post and offensive rebounds and UT pulled away to win. When Stokes improved in January, Yemi's role diminished.

RememberWhen writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

None of us has even seen Ndiaye... but you "know" enough to "doubt" his ability to see the floor. You're wasting your skills: get yourself a D-1 head coaching job!

actually I have seen him - a bunch. He's a low major player at best. The way CCM's statement reads it was suggested that Yemi go somewhere else. Fine. Replace him with someone better if you're gonna run him off. CCM didn't. Thus nothing changes. Including improvement in the downward spiral CCM has this program on.

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to RememberWhen:

actually I have seen him - a bunch. He's a low major player at best. The way CCM's statement reads it was suggested that Yemi go somewhere else. Fine. Replace him with someone better if you're gonna run him off. CCM didn't. Thus nothing changes. Including improvement in the downward spiral CCM has this program on.

Do illuminate us as to the "downward spiral" that he has them on? Golden, Hubbs, McRae, Stokes, and Maimon (know I butchered the spelling, not even gonna embarrass myself by trying to get close). That's a pretty good starting lineup.

This idea that they should have continued Pearl's success when they lost 80% of the scoring from Pearl's last year and didn't have a legit chance to recruit during the transition year..... its ridiculous.

alfrizzle097 writes:

Not to mention, Martin's first team finished with the same record as Pearl's last.

Pearl's best two returning players for his last year were Harris and Hopson. Martin's were Tatum and arguably Kenny Hall. No comparison.

Volunatic writes:

Best of luck to you Yemi. Thank you for your efforts here at UT-- I especially enjoyed watching your energy on defense.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MemphisMagic:

Thompson is a 3-star. ESPN, Rivals, and 247 rated him 3-stars; Scout unrated.

Well, so was Lofton when he came out of HS, so the only thing that matters with Thompson is whether or not he can do what the team needs him to do. I guess we will see about that in time.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RememberWhen:

actually I have seen him - a bunch. He's a low major player at best. The way CCM's statement reads it was suggested that Yemi go somewhere else. Fine. Replace him with someone better if you're gonna run him off. CCM didn't. Thus nothing changes. Including improvement in the downward spiral CCM has this program on.

What Martin's statement said was that Yemi's transfer was a "mutual agreement". Somebody suggested there may be personal circumstances most of us don't know anything about. It is possible that Yemi had his own reasons for wanting out. I know I was disappointed it didn't seem to work out for him here.

Since I haven't seen Ndiaye play, I will take your word for what you saw. However, I would wonder if you only saw him in JC when he was trying to play hurt. Also, he probably doesn't have much of a basketball background, having only arrived from Senegal about five years ago, as I understand it.

In any case, there is no way Martin could have been planning on Yemi leaving after this season, thus he had no reason to make promises to some other better big guy prospect, so he had to take who he could get on the virtual spur of the moment. I have no idea what to expect from Ndiaye, but I have seen things "click" for big guys in what seems like an eyeblink of time. Not saying Ndiaye will become a good player overnight, but it HAS happened.

John_10065 writes:

Good luck Yemi. I actually liked him. He hustled as hard as anyone on defense and knew his role. He'll be a good pick up for a D2 school somewhere.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features