Ajayi enjoys Vol visit

With senior centers Brian Williams and John Fields in the final weeks of their college careers, Tennessee desperately needs some post help for the 2011-12 basketball season.

Lekan Ajayi (pronounced lee-CONN a-JAY-yee) might be just the guy to provide it. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound rebounding machine for Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C., visited Knoxville for Sunday's Vol-Kentucky game and came away impressed.

"He said he had a great time," Quality Education head coach Isaac Pitts told InsideTennessee by phone. "It's one of the schools he likes ... one of the schools on his radar."

The other schools in the running for Ajayi are Seton Hall, Florida and Oklahoma.

When asked what specifically Ajayi liked about his visit with the Vols, Pitts replied: "The atmosphere, the arena, the packed house. He liked that part of it. Just the overall atmosphere of Tennessee basketball."

The coach said Ajayi averaged 12 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocked shots per game this season. His best outing was a 20-point, 23-rebound effort against Whitemarsh High of Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Like most high school big men, Ajayi is just beginning to scratch his potential.

"I think his best basketball is ahead of him," Pitts said. "He'll keep getting better as he works harder. He hasn't shown his true potential. He's about halfway to where he'll eventually be."

In addition to his rebounding, Ajayi has another attribute that would make him a terrific fit for Tennessee's system: He gets up and down the floor exceptionally well for a big man.

"He runs like a deer," Pitts said. "He has really good feet. He's not the average big kid who can't move. He can really run."

As his 12-point scoring average suggests, Ajayi needs some work on his offensive skills.

"He needs to improve his low-post moves," Pitts said. "He's got to get more skilled around the basket."

Ajayi's rebounding skills, conversely, are fully developed already. Asked if his star player reminds him of anyone, Pitts replied: "Maybe Buck Williams (former University of Maryland star who played 17 NBA seasons) in the way he rebounds the ball so very well."

With Williams and Fields gone, Tennessee projects to have just one center on its roster for 2011-12. That would be Kenny Hall, a 6-8, 215-pounder who will be a junior next season. The other "bigs" - Tobias Harris (6-8, 226), Jeronne Maymon (6-7, 264) and Renaldo Woolridge (6-9, 212) are better suited to power forward.


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