Will Mr. Smith go to Knoxville?

Tennessee inched a little closer to the grand prize in the prolonged recruiting process for Giles County High School star and basketball all-American Tyler Smith with word he is now essentially down to two schools — Kansas and Tennessee.

The bad news is he appears to be favoring the Jayhawks despite a couple of recent commitments from Micah Downs and Alex Galindo who project as a part of the forward mix.

"I'm still leaning towards them," Smith told The Insiders Jeff Goodman. "I've looked at it and with those guys going there, it'll just make me try harder and work harder to earn playing time."

He is also apparently still considering Alabama, Florida and UCLA as well as North Carolina and Duke, although the latter two haven't offered a scholarship. Last month Smith was listing Alabama as a favorite along with Tennessee and Kansas.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound small forward averaged 22 points a game last season leading Giles County to the state title. Last summer he participated in the ABCD Camp and was named an all star among the underclassmen. The Insiders ranks Smith a five-star prospect and has him as the ninth best overall prospect in the Class of 2005. The versatile Smith can also play the two guard and well as run a team from the point in the half-court offense where his height provides an advantage.

Smith has been on UT's radar screen the last three years and coach Buzz Peterson has done an effective job establishing a relationship with the topflight forward and his family. However, coming close with this in-state star won't be enough in light of the loss of Corey Brewer to Florida last season combined with the Vols' struggles on the hardwood under Peterson's direction. Tennessee's 2004 recruiting class consisted only of Kentucky shooting guard Chris Lofton.

If Tennessee is to rebound in 2005, Smith needs to be on the front line of their recruiting class. He's expected to make a decision in time to sign in November.

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