Chasing Adonis

If the ongoing investigation into Tennessee's basketball program costs the Vols a shot at postseason play, it may cost them the state's top prospect, as well.

Adonis Thomas, a 6-6, 190-pound senior at Memphis Melrose High School, is rated a 5-star recruit and the No. 2 small forward prospect in America by Scout.com. He made an official visit to Tennessee last weekend and has the Vols in his final five along with UCLA, Florida, Memphis and Arkansas.

"He loved the visit," Melrose coach Jermaine Johnson said. "He was enamored with the visit. He wants to major in sports management, and he mentioned the academic side. He said he was intrigued by their presentation, and he was confident with Kelly Brock (assistant director of the Thornton Academic Center). He also said he got a good feel for all of the players."

Even before the visit, Thomas had a good feel for Tennessee basketball in general. The Vols recognized his talent before anyone else did.

"He's familiar with the program because Tennessee was the first to open up their doors to him and offer him a scholarship," Johnson said. "They were on him when he was a freshman."

Tennessee already has one Melrose product committed for its 2011 signing class, point guard Chris Jones. Although Jones has transferred to Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy for his senior season, he and Adonis Thomas remain friendly.

"They came in as ninth-graders together," Johnson said. "We're a family. We have a family atmosphere here."

Still, the coach said that Jones' plan to sign with Tennessee in November will not influence Adonis Thomas' decision.

"No," the coach said. "Adonis has his own mindset."

Still, Tennessee appears to be in great shape to sign Thomas except for one thing: The ongoing investigation into charges that Vol head coach Bruce Pearl misled NCAA investigators regarding excessive telephone calls to prospects and a visit by two junior prospects to Pearl's home in 2008. The NCAA probe has Adonis Thomas a little nervous.

"His main concern is postseason play," Johnson said. "The other people recruiting him are putting it in his mind that Tennessee is going to get a postseason ban. His main concern is just having a chance to play in The Big Dance. He's concerned about a post-season ban."

Thomas plans to make official visits to Arkansas Sept., 24, UCLA Oct. 1, Florida Oct. 8 and Memphis Oct. 15. He could have immediate impact at any school he chooses to attend.

"He's really versatile," Johnson said. "He's a very good on-the-ball and off-the-ball defender, a great rebounder for his position. He's a shot blocker and he runs the floor well. He can play multiple positions, and he's a steadily evolving player."

Thomas averaged 19.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game as a Melrose junior last winter, guiding the Golden Wildcats to the state title.


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