Maybe 13 will prove lucky for new head coach Rick Barnes and Tennessee’s basketball program. The Vols haven’t signed a quality point guard from the high school ranks since C.J. Watson chose leaving Las Vegas for Knoxville way back in 2002 … a span of 13 years.
Vol fans hope the drought ended with Tuesday’s commitment from Lamonte Turner, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Turner trimmed his list to seven schools – Louisville, Florida, FSU, Alabama, Wichita State, Auburn and Tennessee – before going public for the Vols. He announced his decision via social media with these words:
“Thank God for this opportunity and also my parents and coaches for believing in me. I AM OFFICIALLY COMMITTING TO THE U of TENNESSEE! # VFL”
Like many of the backcourt players Tennessee has signed since Watson, Turner is more of a combo guard than a true point guard. In fact, Scout rates him a three-star recruit as a shooting guard.
“Lamonte is someone who has been on the radar for quite a while,” Scout recruiting analyst Brian Snow told InsideTennessee. “He is a talented kid who handles the ball fairly well and is a pretty good athlete. Personally I have never evaluated him as a point guard, and I’m not sure he has the basketball IQ to be one. That said, he has some talent to work with, is a solid scorer, and can be a versatile defender, as well.”
Another of Scout’s recruiting analysts, Evan Daniels, also views Turner as more of a hybrid than a true point guard. After scouting him last May in the adidas Gauntlet, Daniels had this to say about Turner: “At 6-foot-1, Turner is quick and effective when he pushes the ball. He's able to get by the first line of defense and at times did a good job of setting up his teammates for open looks.”
Like current Vol and fellow Alabama native Detrick Mostella, Turner moved around a lot during his high school career. He played for Sparkman (Alabama) High School in 2012-13, then averaged 17 points per game as a junior in leading Arlington Country Day of Jacksonville to a Florida state title in 2013-14. He then transferred to IMG for his senior season of 2014-15.
Settling on a school hasn’t been Turner’s only dilemma. Originally classified as a 2015 prospect, he reclassified to 2016, then recently reclassified to 2015. That made him immediately eligible to sign a college scholarship but also reduced his field of suitors. Many of the schools recruiting him have no scholarships available at this time. This is much the same situation that enabled Tennessee to sign five-star post prospect Jarnell Stokes when he reclassified and graduated at mid-term from Southwind High of Memphis four years ago.
Turner played mostly shooting guard in high school but focused on developing his point-guard skills during his year at IMG, one of the country’s premier spawning grounds for basketball talent. The school has sent 23 players to the NBA.