Holly Warlick and Lady Vols regroup after Jannah Tucker's decision

1st response will center on recruiting

Jannah Tucker

Photo by Jen Rynda

Jannah Tucker

Holly Warlick read the email on Friday from incoming Tennessee freshman Jannah Tucker, informing the Lady Vols coach that Tucker wouldn’t be coming after all.

Two days later, Warlick still was wondering exactly why.

“I don’t know what’s going on with her; I don’t have an explanation,” Warlick said Sunday afternoon. “She’s dealing with some personal issues and I don’t know what they’re about.”

Warlick decided to release news of Tucker’s decision on Saturday night saying she didn’t want it to “drag on” any longer.

Tucker signed a letter of intent with Tennessee last November. She verbally committed to UT in June of 2012 before suffering a knee injury later that summer and missing her senior season. She briefly reopened her recruitment last fall before reaffirming her commitment.

Neither Tucker nor her father, Robert, could be reached for comment on Sunday.

Warlick said that Tucker didn’t ask for a release from her scholarship, diminishing any conjecture about Tucker intending to transfer.

What’s certain is that the 6-foot wing player from Randallstown, Md., ranked No. 8 by ESPN in the 2013 recruiting class, won’t be attending Tennessee. She was expected to join fellow freshmen Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds, who are enrolled in the second session of summer school. Classes begin Monday.

Tucker’s decision leaves Tennessee with just 10 players for next season. Reserve guard Jasmine Phillips left UT after the spring semester in search of a bigger role elsewhere. Warlick said she hadn’t heard from Phillips and wasn’t planning to inquire about the former Lady Vol’s availability.

Instead, Warlick and her staff will focus on adding at least one wing player in the fall signing class. She and her assistants have fanned out across the country during the July viewing period. Assistant Jolette Law will travel to Lithuania later this month to watch the U.S. women’s team play in the U19 World Championships. Along with Tennessee sophomore Bashaara Graves, the U.S. roster includes top recruits A’ja Wilson and Gabby Green. The 6-4 Wilson, a forward with impressive perimeter skills, is the top-ranked player by ESPN in the 2014 class. Green, a 6-1 guard, is ranked No. 9.

“What you try to do every year is recruit to your needs,” UT assistant coach Dean Lockwood said. “(Tucker) filled a definite need for us. She put together the dimensions of a wing player very well.”

While Lockwood and the other coaches can’t speak about specific recruits, Tennessee is believed to be recruiting several other players who could fill the void left by Tucker. They include 6-1 wing Jaime Nared from Portland, Ore., 5-11 wing Shakayla Thomas from Sylacauga, Ala. and Sierra Calhoun, a 6-0 wing from Brooklyn, N.Y.

UT received a verbal commitment in May from combo guard Alexa Middleton from Murfreesboro. The Lady Vols also are recruiting combo guard McKenzie Calvert from Schertz, Texas.

In the meantime, Warlick said she still wants to use pressure defense and play at a fast pace next season. The same strategy last season was impacted by having only 10 players available for most of the season.

“Whether we play that throughout the year, we’ll see,” Warlick said. “I think you’ll see a lot of people playing. I think we have 10 solid kids who can play and contribute.”

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Comments » 20

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

I knew it. No one was talking about her . A pity , just look at all the successful lady Vols in the WNBA. Looks like she wants to be the only star.

SummittsCourt writes:

Move on! Go Lady Vols!

FanNotSheep writes:

More bad news for UT. I wonder if this has been the worst five years in the school's athletic history. Like the rain, it just won't go away.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

At a time like this the entire coaching staff needs to apply General Neyland's third maxim. If at first the game or the breaks go against you, don't let up...put on more steam. This is no time to panic because we have a ton of talent coming plus we should have a healthy Andraya Carter.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

More bad news for UT. I wonder if this has been the worst five years in the school's athletic history. Like the rain, it just won't go away.

And still sitting at the top of the heap..... I agree with you the Vols have had more than their share of bad news but still finding a way to be in the mix....

kazoo writes:

The program has been stalled for a while--one step forward, one step back. I'm not sure why the coaches are caught EVERY YEAR, seemingly, by a shortage of players. Summitt never had enough players--and we've got the same recurring problem with Warlick. You'd think by now that the coaches would understand that transfers and injuries and no shows are going to happen--pretty regularly--and so would recruit extra players. They don't do it, however--and the Vols have personnel issues almost every year. Absurd.

BrianF writes:

in response to kazoo:

The program has been stalled for a while--one step forward, one step back. I'm not sure why the coaches are caught EVERY YEAR, seemingly, by a shortage of players. Summitt never had enough players--and we've got the same recurring problem with Warlick. You'd think by now that the coaches would understand that transfers and injuries and no shows are going to happen--pretty regularly--and so would recruit extra players. They don't do it, however--and the Vols have personnel issues almost every year. Absurd.

The problem is getting enough quality players to compete against Stanford, Notre Dame, Duke, Connecticut, Baylor, etc. It's not a problem for the soft part of the schedule. Look around, even final 4 teams don't go that deep – Connecticut only went 8 deep this year, 7 deep last year, 6 the year before. At least when it came to past the 1st round NCAA games. And having a player walk away at the last-minute? I notice she missed last year because of an injury. Wouldn't be surprised if she's doubting herself, skill and condition wise, and possibly afraid to leave the comfort of home. Wouldn't be at all surprised if she attended a less than top basketball school much closer to home (can anyone say Elena Della Donne?)

yopatrick#231155 writes:

Can't Tucker still enroll in the fall and play this year? Why must she attend summer school?

ModelMaker writes:

Could be Tucker is still having problems with her knee. Whatever her problem is she need's too be up front with the UT coaches and the fan's and tell us exactly why she is not coming. Everyone was looking forward too, and counting on her too play this year. If she has got any character at all she will come forward.

laraccoon writes:

one should always remember when dealing with kids chit happens .

bmgvirgo#210233 writes:

She could just be burnt out on basketball. Delle Donne was for a year.

kazoo writes:

It doesn't sound like any of coaches had established a real good relationship with this young girl, despite the fact that she committed to UT. I say that because she emailed Warlick rather than called. Maybe she was just copping out because she had bad news....either way, it's a blow.

Volinflan writes:

I thought M. Calvert had verbally committed to Baylor?

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to tennrich1:

And still sitting at the top of the heap..... I agree with you the Vols have had more than their share of bad news but still finding a way to be in the mix....

Well the rain finally stopped -- for a day at least. Maybe the Vols can look ahead to brighter days too.

reachkim00 writes:

Coaching staff has already catered to her personal issues to get her to come here in the first place , she's a cop out. Move on and forget about her... just opens the door for someone more committed and really interested in our beloved Lady Vol program. Personally I want someone here who wants to be here. GO LADY VOLS!!

voldoll73 writes:

in response to kazoo:

The program has been stalled for a while--one step forward, one step back. I'm not sure why the coaches are caught EVERY YEAR, seemingly, by a shortage of players. Summitt never had enough players--and we've got the same recurring problem with Warlick. You'd think by now that the coaches would understand that transfers and injuries and no shows are going to happen--pretty regularly--and so would recruit extra players. They don't do it, however--and the Vols have personnel issues almost every year. Absurd.

Summit never had enough players, that's why she won eight national titles!!! Funny!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to voldoll73:

Summit never had enough players, that's why she won eight national titles!!! Funny!

Clever retort, but you know kazoo has a point. Pat was famous for under-recruiting and several of her teams suffered from personnel availability issues. This seems to be a bedrock principle of the program, passed down from Pat to Holly. The essence of it is, I think, that it is bad for team morale if everybody on the bench is a top-rated recruit. Some "stars", at least in their communities and/or in their own minds, think they deserve the ball and the spotlight. It was Pat's genius that she could usually get such players to accept roles within a team concept without losing their confidence or too much of their pizazz, but that is a balancing act that not every coach can carry off every season. She also minimized the problem by not signing too many of those players at a time. The thing is, an average player who is available is more useful than a "super-star" who is not. "Quantity has a quality all its own."

Volinflan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Clever retort, but you know kazoo has a point. Pat was famous for under-recruiting and several of her teams suffered from personnel availability issues. This seems to be a bedrock principle of the program, passed down from Pat to Holly. The essence of it is, I think, that it is bad for team morale if everybody on the bench is a top-rated recruit. Some "stars", at least in their communities and/or in their own minds, think they deserve the ball and the spotlight. It was Pat's genius that she could usually get such players to accept roles within a team concept without losing their confidence or too much of their pizazz, but that is a balancing act that not every coach can carry off every season. She also minimized the problem by not signing too many of those players at a time. The thing is, an average player who is available is more useful than a "super-star" who is not. "Quantity has a quality all its own."

I remember a story about John Wooden ( I can't vouch for the truth of the story). Wooden said " I don't recruit, I take applications". I think that attitude may have crept into Knoxville. It seems like for several years in a row, Tennessee was hanging until the signing day waiting for one of the absolute best players. When they choose Duke (Williams) or Rutgers (Hollivay) etc.etc. etc., it was too late to fill that roster spot. When you need five players, recruit fifteen. Sign five and keep that one scholarship for the superstar!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volinflan:

I remember a story about John Wooden ( I can't vouch for the truth of the story). Wooden said " I don't recruit, I take applications". I think that attitude may have crept into Knoxville. It seems like for several years in a row, Tennessee was hanging until the signing day waiting for one of the absolute best players. When they choose Duke (Williams) or Rutgers (Hollivay) etc.etc. etc., it was too late to fill that roster spot. When you need five players, recruit fifteen. Sign five and keep that one scholarship for the superstar!

Well, during John Wooden's glory days, there was a guy whose name escapes me at the moment who let it be known to elite prospects that there was a great living to be made as a UCLA basketball player. This is sometimes shocking to Wooden fans, of which I am one to an extent, but he could afford to only "accept applications", even though he and most others say he was unaware of this "help" at the time. Only the time lapse between the occurence of these payoffs and the time they became widely known saved the esteem in which most hold Wooden to this day. Few today remember that Wooden didn't win a conference championship in at least his first 10 years, which in those days meant that UCLA didn't go to the NCAA tournament at all.

johnlg00 writes:

PS: Even when they were winning all their championships under Pat, the LVs never had such an efficient--if morally and legally dubious--system for enticing the stars, which should be needless to say.

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