Tyndall adds tough guy

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New Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall relishes toughness, which helps explain why he accepted a Tuesday afternoon commitment from post-graduate transfer Ian Chiles.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound guard from IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) missed seven late-season games due to injury. In his second game back he came off the bench to hit 8 of 13 shots and score 20 points in an 88-66 loss to Omaha on Feb. 27. In his third game back he played all 40 minutes, hitting 9 of 18 field goal tries (4 of 5 from 3) and 5 of 5 foul shots en route to 27 points in a 75-70 loss to Western Illinois on March 1 in the regular-season finale.

When IUPUI fired head coach Todd Howard at the end of a 6-26 season, Chiles decided to take advantage of the relatively new NCAA rule allowing players with a degree and eligibility remaining to transfer without sitting out a year. After visiting Bruce Pearl and Auburn last week, Chiles visited Tennessee on Monday. Cancelling a scheduled visit to Maryland, he committed to the Big Orange on Tuesday afternoon and announced plans to fax his signed paperwork to the Vols.

Chiles was the second backcourt prospect to join the Vols in a matter of hours. Devon Baulkman, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior college transfer from Gulf Coast State College, cast his lot with the Vols on Tuesday morning.

Chiles has a strong family tie to Tennessee. Older sister India was a slugging outfielder for the Lady Vol softball team. She led the squad in hitting with a .437 batting average in 2006, then led the entire SEC in batting with a .459 average in 2007, earning first-team All-America honors. Her pro career was cut short by a major knee injury.

Injury has been a problem for Ian Chiles, as well. In addition to sitting out seven games in 2013-14, he missed all but four games in 2012-13, receiving a medical redshirt from the NCAA. That enabled him to get his degree with eligibility remaining and transfer to Tennessee without sitting out a year.

Chiles is a quality scorer who averaged 10.5 points per game as a sophomore at IUPUI in 2011-12 and 15.9 as a redshirt junior in 2013-14. His career-high for the Jaguars was 28 points. Though burdened by a weak supporting cast, he still shot 41.9 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from 3 last winter. He made a team-best 31 baskets from behind the arc. Despite missing seven games he was named second-team All-Summitt League by College Sports Madness.

Chiles is likely to play some point guard for Tennessee, now that 2013-14 starter Antonio Barton is out of eligibility and 2013-14 backup Darius Thompson appears likely to transfer. Chiles averaged 1.8 assists per game for IUPUI last winter and reportedly has a pretty good handle, although his ratio of assists (44) to turnovers (47) leaves a bit to be desired.

Originally from Louisville, Chiles graduated from Ballard High School, then spent a year at Wabash Valley Junior College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., before enrolling at IUPUI.

Chiles is the sixth newcomer added by Tyndall this spring and the second post-graduate transfer. The other is 6-foot-9 Eric McKnight of Gulf Coast State College in Fort Myers, Fla. The remaining newcomers are Baulkman, 6-foot-8 prep school forward Jabari McGhee (Hargrave Military Academy), 6-foot-4 JUCO All-America guard Kevin Punter, 6-foot-3 prep school guard Detrick Mostella.

Even with six new faces coming on board, Tennessee has just 11 scholarship players locked in for 2014-15. The five returnees from 2013-14 are rising seniors Josh Richardson and Rawane Ndiaye, rising juniors Armani Moore and Derek Reese, plus rising sophomore Robert Hubbs. The Vols are losing three players (Jordan McRae, Jeronne Maymon, D'Montre Edwards) to graduation, one (Jarnell Stokes) to the NBA Draft and at least one (Quinton Chievous) to transfer. As noted earlier, Thompson also appears likely to transfer.

All four players who signed with Tennessee last November have secured releases and pledged to other schools since Cuonzo Martin left to take the reins at Cal.

Tyndall has two more scholarships he can give to reach the NCAA maximum of 13.

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