Punter joins Team Tyndall

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If new Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall rebuilds as relentlessly as he recruits, the Vols could surprise some people in 2014-15.

Three days after committing and signing prep school forward Jabari McGhee during his official visit on Friday Tyndall committed and signed Junior College All-American Kevin Punter Monday morning, mere hours after he concluded his official visit.

Punter announced his decision via twitter, picking the Vols over Missouri. He committed to the Tigers on April 7 but decided to take another look before signing a letter of intent. He was scheduled to visit SMU last weekend but canceled in favor of touring Tennessee. Afterward, he gushed about the trip in an interview with InsideTennessee.

Punter is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo., who averaged 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game last season in leading his team to a 26-7 record and the Junior College national tournament's Sweet 16. He shot 57.1 percent from the field, 37.1 percent from 3-point range and 82.7 percent from the foul line.

Punter's knack for perimeter scoring should help ease the loss of wing Jordan McRae, who led Tennessee with 18.7 points per game in 2013-14.

Punter was part of a heralded three-guard State Fair lineup in 2013-14 that also featured Florida State commitment Kedar Edwards and Joe Thomasson, who committed to Oklahoma State but wound up signing with Wright State. As a State Fair freshman in 2012-13 Punter played alongside Kenny Chery, who averaged 11 points per game as Baylor's starting point guard in 2013-14.

Originally from Brooklyn, Punter scored 23 points in the title game as Salesian High School won the New York State Cathlolic High School Athletic Association Class B title in 2010-11. He then spent a season at Body of Christ Christian Academy in Raleigh, averaging 24.2 points per game in prep school.

He started every game as a freshman at State Fair Community College in 2012-13 but really blossomed last winter. He was National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Week (Jan. 20-26) after scoring 55 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out 3 assists and blocking 2 shots in wins over West Plains and Mineral Area College. He went on to be named Region 16 Player of the Year and a first-team NJCAA All-American.

Even with McGhee and Punter in the fold, Tennessee has just nine scholarship players projected to suit up in 2014-15. Quinton Chievous' plan to transfer from UT is on hold, so the Vols could have 10 players. Still, that would leave them three below the NCAA limit of 13.

Tyndall is recruiting several more high school and junior college players. He also is showing interest in some Div. I transfers as he looks to bolster Tennessee's lineup.

There is still a chance that November signee Phil Cofer (Fayetteville, Ga.) will sign with the Vols. He got a release from his scholarship recently but met with the new staff last week to discuss re-signing with the Big Orange. He reportedly has Tennessee in his final four, along with Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The family home's proximity to Atlanta favors Georgia Tech but the fact his dad was a football star at Tennessee is a plus for the Vols.

Willie Carmichael, a 6-foot-7 forward from Apopka, Fla., who signed with Tyndall's Southern Miss program last November, has secured a release from USM and could be the next domino to fall for Tyndall at Tennessee.

As IT projected, November Vol signee C.J. Turman of Madison, Ga., has committed to Florida Atlantic, which recently hired Turman's high school coach, Charlemagne Gibbons, as an assistant.


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