Cuonzo Martin comments on Tennessee's four-man 2014 signing class

Tennessee basketball head coach Cuonzo Martin talks about the upcoming season during Media Day at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, October 7, 2013.

(SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee basketball head coach Cuonzo Martin talks about the upcoming season during Media Day at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, October 7, 2013. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Cuonzo Martin is happy with his haul.

“We’ve signed four great kids who bring a combination of athleticism, skill and toughness to our program,” the Tennessee men’s basketball coach said in a UT release Thursday. “I know all of them are eager to get here and get to work.”

Martin announced his 2014 recruiting class after its four members had signed and faxed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Vols.

Point guard Larry Austin, Jr. from Lanphier High School in Springfield, Ill., and shooting guard Jordan Cornish from Brother Martin High School in New Orleans signed Thursday. 247Sports’ composite ranking, an average of several major basketball recruiting services, assigned a four-star ranking to the 6-foot-1 160-pound Austin and a three-star ranking to the 6-4, 180-pound Cornish.

“Larry is a fast, strong floor leader who is really tough-minded and aggressive on the defensive side of the ball,” Martin said. “He’s a natural play maker who has really good court awareness, loves to lead the break and set up his teammates. He’ll be a great addition to our program.”

“( Jordan has) a strong frame for a guard,” Martin said of Cornish. “He’s big and physical. He can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, and he can also knock down the 3-point shot. He plays with a scorer’s mentality.”

Power forwards Phil Cofer from Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Ga., and CJ Turman from Morgan County High School in Madison, Ga., signed Wednesday. They should help bolster a frontcourt that will lose current starter Jeronne Maymon. 247Sports assigned a four-star composite ranking to the 6-8, 205-pound Cofer and a three-star ranking for the 6-8, 250-pound Turman. Cofer’s father, Mike Cofer, played defensive end at UT before a lengthy career in the NFL.

“He’s a very athletic player who has an unbelievable work ethic,” Martin said of Phil Cofer. “He comes from a family of great competitors. He’s a big-time inside presence who has a great knack for making plays around the rim on both ends of the floor.”

“CJ gives us another big inside presence who can overpower opponents,” Martin said of Turman. “He’s a guy that really understands the game. He scores around the rim. He’s a big, physical athlete. I love his explosiveness.”

UT, which loses seniors Maymon, Jordan McRae, Antonio Barton and D’Montre Edwards after this season, reached its scholarship limit with Thursday’s additions. But Martin and his staff could continue recruiting since a scholarship will be vacated if junior forward Jarnell Stokes forgoes his senior season to enter the NBA draft. The Vols pursued five-star forward Kevon Looney of Milwaukee before he committed to UCLA on Oct. 31 UT’s current class ranks 41st in the country and seventh in the SEC, according to 247Sports.

Basketball’s early signing period ends Nov. 20. Regular signing period begins April 16, 2014.

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Comments » 8

ColPhorbin writes:

#41 ranked class! WOWZER, man things are looking up... and 7th in the SEC. So thrilled to hear this report. I just hope we keep these commits after we lose 1st round of the NIT.

JSmith525 writes:

Another NIT and 1st round loss should = new coach.
If with the players we have this season and there is no improvement in the program then there will never be improvement. I am not judging by one game, but the play in that game left much to be desired. Don't forget this team has 2 five star players Hubbs and Stokes. I hope Coach M can get them going if he can't then he needs to get going, elsewhere.

underthehill writes:

Since Martin has been the UT coach I have hoped he would be a success..I still do..but the reality is ..it don't look good for making the big show anytime soon..the SEC may get Ky, Fla and one more in..most likely Mizzu or LSU..

johndavid writes:

They need to have a good Thanksgiving tournament to get things back on track! Virginia, Withchita ST ARE much more important now. We will be above 500 in SEC but that might not be enough! This team can be really good if they get it going! This team with Barton and Hubbs is way better than Golden and Mcbee. They will do well but they should do great!

fannotsheep writes:

You'd think the Vols could beat a short-handed Xavier squad with what (on paper) appears to be the most talented roster UT has put on the floor in years. Everything I've read leading up to the season indicated things were coming together. I was surprised and disappointed when the preseason rankings had us just outside the Top 25. But apparently that was too optimistic because they sure don't look close to Top 25 to me.

They can't shoot, they are fairly painful to watch and I can't help but wonder what Pearl would do with this team. Maybe somebody else can see what Martin is trying to accomplish. If you do, please enlighten me. Because I can't.

underthehill writes:

in response to fannotsheep:

You'd think the Vols could beat a short-handed Xavier squad with what (on paper) appears to be the most talented roster UT has put on the floor in years. Everything I've read leading up to the season indicated things were coming together. I was surprised and disappointed when the preseason rankings had us just outside the Top 25. But apparently that was too optimistic because they sure don't look close to Top 25 to me.

They can't shoot, they are fairly painful to watch and I can't help but wonder what Pearl would do with this team. Maybe somebody else can see what Martin is trying to accomplish. If you do, please enlighten me. Because I can't.

It appears to me you are in the majority..the standing still and passing the ball back and forth then forcing a shot motion offense is not impressive..

eepwlg writes:

in response to underthehill:

It appears to me you are in the majority..the standing still and passing the ball back and forth then forcing a shot motion offense is not impressive..

Pearl can come back next year

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

It appears to me you are in the majority..the standing still and passing the ball back and forth then forcing a shot motion offense is not impressive..

The major missing element in what I have always understood as a motion offense is cutting to the basket without the ball. So you are of course correct that the offense can't work if the players aren't in, er, MOTION! In my cynical moments, I have always regarded "motion offense" as a short-hand way of saying, "We are going to work so much on defense that we don't want to take practice time to work on set plays."

The conundrum here is that Martin has seemed to rely on guys who will work hard on defense and rebounding so he doesn't really need flashy offensive superstars to win. The trouble is that players who are limited on offense NEED set plays to get good shots if they aren't capable of getting them for themselves OR they need to have a lot of REAL purposeful motion without the ball to shake themselves free for easy shots. You almost have to go one way or the other, and I think this is a dilemma that Martin REALLY needs to solve.

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