Mr. Smith Verbals to Vols

Tyler Smith has done many remarkable things in his high school basketball career at Giles County High School, but he achieved something Saturday that borders on the impossible — he managed to upstage Tennessee football one day before the season opener by committing to the Vols.

The 6-foot-6 small forward from Pulaski, has been a recruiting target for UT head coach Buzz Peterson since he first took over the Big Orange basketball reins three years ago. At times it looked like the homegrown hardwood talent might slip the Vols' grasp, but Buzz finally got his man who will sign in November.

Smith chose Tennessee over offers from Alabama, Kansas, UCLA and Vanderbilt. He was also heavily recruited by Duke and North Carolina of the ACC.

"There was no other way that I wanted to have it than to go to Tennessee," Smith told The Insiders Dave Telep. "I felt it was like home. It's an in-state school. There's good people here. How can you not feel at home?

Smith is certainly at home on the court where he averaged 22 points per game last season along with eight rebounds and five assists. Over the summer he played AAU ball with the Southeast Pump n' Run and shared MVP honors with Duke commitment Greg Paulus at the adidas Superstar Camp. He is generally regarded as a top 25 prospect nationally and is rated the No. 14 small forward by The Insiders. He's the highest rated recruit secured by Peterson during his three years on The Hill.

An outstanding athlete who can drive from the wing or slash through the paint, Smith needs only to refine his shooting skills to become the complete offensive package. He is versatile enough to play the point at Giles County as well as the post.

Smith joins power forward Joey Cameron of Leeds, Ala., and shooting guard Jarvis Hill of Starkville, Miss., as Tennessee verbals. The Vols are hopeful of landing highly regarded point guard Devan Downey of Chester, S.C. and are still in the chase for wing guard Jamont Gordon of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

"There's a lot of pressure to stay here," Smith said earlier this summer when asked about leaving the state. "A lot of Giles County fans bleed orange. It's my decision and I have to see what is the best option for me. In a way it helps. I wouldn't want to disrespect everyone at home. But, if I have a better option I wouldn't want to pass it up if it's right."

Buzz and Big Orange fans can all breath a little easier.

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