Zach Kent gives Vols '1 of the most skilled big men in the country'

Zach Kent committed to the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday. Find out what kind of player Rick Barnes is getting from those that know him best.

Zach Kent made a decision to play his collegiate basketball at Tennessee, declaring his intentions Sunday.

The 6-foot-10, 228-pounder from Blair (N.J.) Academy chose the Volunteers over Northwestern and received interest from the likes of Clemson, Maryland, Oregon, Providence and Virginia Tech during the recruiting process.

Long-time AAU coach Duane Coverdale is Kent’s mentor and says the future Vol has shown the ability to be something special for many years.

"I thought he had something right away," Coverdale told InsideTennessee. "He was long, skinny and growing. His game hadn't caught up yet with his body."

Over 200 players have learned the finer points of basketball and gone on to play in college under Coverdale’s watchful eye. The Scout three-star prospect Kent has been under Coverdale’s guidance since Kent’s eighth grade.

"Zach Kent is one of the most skilled big men in the country,” Coverdale said, “and I coached Eric Boateng, who was a McDonald's All-American and ended up going to Duke and currently is playing overseas. Zach is a lot more skilled than Eric was. I've seen a lot of the kids in the country this year and at his size I haven't seen anyone as skilled as him.

"He has a lot of weapons inside and out, but he's still putting it together. He's just learning to use them all. He can shoot it out to about 25 feet. Inside, he has great feet. He has jump-hooks with either hand and runners with either hand. He has counters. Once he gets that whole package together, he has a chance to do some special things.

"He's not a rim protector but he's a good athlete — a better athlete than you might think. He has good lateral feet and he's just learning to guard out on the perimeter because he's been inside so much.

"He has to become a better rebounder but that will happen with improved strength. Zach has the frame to add a good amount of weight and a good amount of strength. Once he's put some muscle on, he could become a pretty intimidating presence."

Kent made his official visit to Tennessee on Oct. 14-16. Mother Tina Kent and father Clark Connelle joined the 2017 class talent, along with Coverdale.

Tennessee associate head coach Rob Lanier was the Vols’ lead recruiter for Kent and has known Coverdale for 20 years.

"Rob's a good guy, well-respected in the coaching fraternity, but this is the first kid he's ever gotten from me," Coverdale said. "He's a guy I would trust with my son and Zach is like a son to me. I absolutely trust him with Zach."

This year, Kent transferred to Blair Academy, a prep school that features numerous Division I prospects, including 6-11 talent Deng Gak, who just committed to Miami (Fla.). Previously, Kent attended St. Andrew’s, a Delaware prep school with an excellent academic reputation.

In 2015-16, Kent averaged approximately 17 points and nine rebounds a game, while shooting 58 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point land and 80 percent at the charity stripe. He was selected first-team All-League by the Independent Conference.

St Andrew’s coach Terrell Meyer, who also runs the AAU program We R 1 for which Kent plays, offered his opinion on Kent.

"Offensively, he has the total package. He can really shoot the ball and is real good passer with a very high I.Q. Once he gets stronger, he'll be more of a presence inside.

"Defensively, like most high-school kids, he'll probably have a tougher time, until he adjusts to the speed of the game.

"Zach's a hard-working young working man. He's intense, very bright and passionate about helping people."

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