Lady Vols keying on six players from Class of 2006

The class of 2006 has several top-notch "bigs" and with news of one of them making a verbal commitment to UConn, the Lady Vols have both narrowed their focus and expanded their reach to forwards and guards.

Kristen Phillips, a 6'5 center from Greensboro, N.C., was at the UT-UConn game in Hartford, and committed to the Huskies, according to The Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.

"First off, I want to win," Phillips told the paper in Tuesday's edition. "That's every player's goal, and UConn has shown it's the place to do it. And there's not another coach that I want to win a national championship for. I liked the closeness of the team and it's the perfect environment."

Phillips had been on Tennessee's short list of centers. The other two centers Tennessee is focused on are Tina Charles and Jayne Appel.

Charles is from Jamaica, N.Y., and attends Christ the King High School, the alma mater of former Lady Vol Chamique Holdsclaw. UConn and Duke also are very interested in the 6'3 post player.

Jayne Appel, 6'4, is from Concord, Calif., and attends Carondelet High School. Appel made an unofficial visit to Tennessee last week and attended a Lady Vols practice with her father, Joe Appel. She made an unofficial visit to UConn for Saturday's game, which was won by Tennessee, 68-67. Appel, a top student, also is looking at Stanford, Duke and Notre Dame.

Stanford is still believed to have the inside track, but Appel apparently is keeping her options open, and Tennessee remains in the thick of the recruiting race.

There also are two forwards that UT is keen on: Arnika Brown, 6'2, Hopkinsville, Ky., Christian County High School; and Christy Marshall, 6'0, Savannah, Ga., Beach High School.

One guard in the class, Cait McMahan of Maryville, Tenn., committed to Tennessee last summer. The 5'4 point guard is having another outstanding year for Heritage High School.

Tennessee also is watching another guard closely in Delaquese "Dee Dee" Jernigan, 5'11, E. Chicago, Indiana, Central High School. Arizona, DePaul, Illinois, Michigan, Notre Dame and Purdue also are interested.

Tennessee will return nine scholarship players for the 2006-07 season: Dominique Redding and Sidney Spencer, who will be seniors; Nicky Anosike, Sybil Dosty, Alexis Hornbuckle, Candace Parker (assuming she doesn't redshirt) and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, who will be juniors; and Alex Fuller (a redshirt freshman this season) and Lindsey Moss, who will be sophomores.

Add in the already-committed McMahan, who will be a freshman that season, and that accounts for 10 scholarships.

Tennessee is looking to sign two or three players besides McMahan from the class of 2006 to hold the scholarship roster to 12 or 13. They seem to have narrowed their targets.

TUESDAY'S PRACTICE: The Lady Vols continued preparations for this week's SEC opening games against Arkansas on Thursday at home and Vanderbilt on Sunday in Nashville, but they did it with reduced numbers.

Freshman Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood and Shyra Ely were held out of practice because of illness, according to Jenny Moshak, associate athletics director for sports medicine. Both players saw the team doctor and started taking antibiotics. Wiley-Gatewood has an infected throat, and Ely has a sinus infection.

Wiley-Gatewood has improved considerably since Monday and could be cleared to practice Wednesday. Ely, who hasn't yet shown improvement, also is a possibility to practice if she feels better overnight.

Candace Parker continued to do rehab and strengthening exercises on the sideline and arena steps, but the news is a little better for the freshman forward. The swelling in her left knee is noticeably better.

"It's down; it's not gone," Moshak said. "I'm just keeping things controlled."

There is no timetable for Parker's return to practice and for now it's just a steady diet of rehab. She was able to shoot baskets on a side court with redshirt freshman Alex Fuller.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories