Schofield sticks with Tennessee

Admiral Schofield took some time earlier in the month to mull over his options after the departure of Donnie Tyndall. Now he's decided to stay a Vol and help usher in a new hoops era in Knoxville.

It didn’t have the pomp and circumstance or the hubris of LeBron James’ infamous televised decision in 2010.

But with one simple tweet late Sunday night, Tennessee three-star signee Admiral Schofield sent Vol nation into an enthusiastic frenzy after choosing to honor his commitment to the school.

The Zion-Benton Township (Ill.) High School senior’s decision to stick with Tennessee provided new coach Rick Barnes with his first major victory of the 2015 season.

“The past 24 hours have been welcoming and heartwarming to see all the support I’ve got from the fans,” Schofield told InsideTennessee. “I think that Vol nation was always very supportive, but last night really showed it. It’s been an amazing 24 hours on my decision.”

The 6-5, 210-pound forward took some time to think things over when Donnie Tyndall was terminated in March amidst an NCAA investigation into his time at Southern Miss.

But after speaking with Barnes personally and learning the new Tennessee coach’s personality, he knew he was going to stay loyal to the Vols.

“It’s going to be a good partnership, good friendship, good relationship down at Tennessee. It’s just a good fit for (Barnes),” Schofield said. “That was my biggest thing, is what type of person he was. It was hard to see Donnie Tyndall go, but I know that it’s a business. I had to accept that part.”

Schofield came to terms with Tyndall’s departure and moved on to his new head coach, whose 22 NCAA Tournament bids, three Elite Eight appearances and long list of NBA products were enough to impress the senior, who already knew who Barnes was before he took the Tennessee job.

“Anyone who’s been successful in what he does is a coach that I want to play for. He’s always talking about (how) he’s put a lot guys in the NBA and that’s my goal,” Schofield said. “He’s on board with that. He’s going to help me succeed and I’m going to help him succeed.”

Schofield was also able to hear about Barnes’ coaching style from one of his former players whom he has grown close to over the years. Schofield's AAU coach, former Chicago Bull and three-time NBA champion Dickey Simpkins, played for Barnes at Providence from 1990-94 and helped him understand the new Tennessee coach on a personal level.

“I got a feel for who he was as a person," he said. "I think that his success rate is what really pushed him over the top. I’m real happy with Coach Barnes and I can’t wait to get down to Knoxville.”

While Simpkins wasn’t actively vying for his pupil to play at Tennessee, his insight did play a major part in Schofield’s decision to stay a Vol.

“It was important, but I wouldn’t say that it influenced my decision on staying. I would say that it really helped me in choosing the right fit,” Schofield said. “I had no serious intent on leaving Tennessee, but getting to talk to Coach Barnes, I was more sure that I was going to stay.”

Barnes will be the Vols’ third coach in three years, but his past consistency and eagerness to stay at Tennesssee long-term has been a welcomed presence by players like Schofield, who are looking to turn a new leaf in Knoxville.

“I’m very excited. This year, I think, is going to be very different. This year I think is going to take us over the top,” he said.

“Hopefully we can get some big wins this year and have a great record. It’s a new era in Knoxville — a winning era — and we’re going to be very successful here."


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