At this time next year, Tennessee could potentially be replacing a pair of frontcourt players each standing 6-foot-8, 260 pounds.
Senior forward Jeronne Maymon is entering his final college season. His partner in the post, junior forward Jarnell Stokes, might opt to leave UT early and enter the 2014 NBA draft.
That’s a huge hole to fill, both literally and figuratively. On Sunday, the Vols landed a commitment to potentially help do precisely that.
Madison, Ga., power forward CJ Turman called UT coach Cuonzo Martin and pledged a verbal commitment one day after taking an unofficial visit to campus.
“I knew Tennessee was waiting on me to commit,” he told the News Sentinel on Sunday.
The Vols didn’t have to wait long.
Turman, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound big man from Monroe County High School, is ranked No. 147 overall in the 247Composite ranking, which averages the ratings from all major recruiting outlets. Turman is also ranked as the No. 36 power forward in his class and the ninth-best 2014 prospect in Georgia.
He picked the Vols over scholarship offers from Alabama, Miami, Houston, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech and Georgia, according to Morgan County coach Charlemagne Gibbons.
“(Tennessee) began recruiting him last summer,” said Gibbons, who added that while recruitment from other programs went up and down, UT did a good job of “consistently being there.”
Saturday’s unofficial visit to Knoxville closed the deal. Turman said he was impressed by the tour around UT’s campus and meeting with the current Vols.
Martin and the Vols now hold verbal commitments from four players ranked in 247’s top 150. Turman joins point guard Larry Austin (No. 100), shooting guard Jordan Cornish (130) and power forward Philip Cofer (134). All four are rated as four-star prospects by ESPN.
Between Turman and Cofer, UT will bring in a frontcourt measuring 6-foot-9, 250 pounds and 6-8, 205. There could be more help as well. The Vols are still heavily involved with 6-foot-7 power forward Leron Black, a Memphis native, and 6-foot-9 small forward Kevon Looney from Milwaukee, among others.
Gibbons said Turman is a banging, rugged rebounder, but also agile and athletic.
“CJ is a mobile big who can get up and down the floor, step out in certain situations and play with power around the basket,” Gibbons said.
In talking about Turman’s size and mobility, Gibbons noted that Monroe County plays an up-tempo, pressing system.
“The biggest thing about him is that there aren’t many kids in the country who are going to have his type of athleticism and lateral movement that he has,” Gibbons said. “I think that’s one of the most intriguing things about him. He moves so well for being 6-9, 250. That’s a load to move.”
Turman averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds as Monroe County went 25-5 last season.
“Defensively he can go in there (to Tennessee) right away and be force,” Gibbons said. “Offensively he can only get better. At the same time, he’s got a good left shoulder jump hook and can make the 12-to-15 footer.”
With Turman in the fold, UT coaches may have gained an edge in the ongoing recruitment of 2015 prospect Tookie Brown, Turman’s teammate at Monroe County. The 5-foot-10 point guard joined Turman on this weekend’s visit to Knoxville.
According to Gibbons, Brown is considering Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Butler, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Clemson and Connecticut.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee football and men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.