Unfinished Business Awaits Coach X

Recruiting ranks right up there with scoring when it comes to basketball success and Tennessee's new round ball director has a real opportunity get off to a fast start by closing with a strong finish.

With three signees — Tyler Smith, Matthew Dotson and Damion Harris — already on board, the Vols have two scholarships to offer for the second signing date next month and can fill two glaring needs with the right acquisitions.

No. 1 on UT's list is 6-foot-4, 215-pound, shooting guard Jamont Gordon of Oak Hill Academy. A native of Nashville, where he starred at East High School for three seasons before transferring to the hardwood finishing school in Mouth of Wilson, Va., Gordon is that athletic perimeter player who can both fire from the arc and score off the drive. He's also an outstanding on-ball defender who can help Tennessee pressure opponents or transition to an up-tempo game. He is also a capable rebounder who can post up smaller defenders.

"I think I'm a scorer and I can pass it good," Gordon told Telep. "Put me on the wing and let me make plays.

"When I was [in high school in Nashville] we played a 2-3 zone. Now in man-to-man I have to stop my guy."

A longtime target of the Vols, Gordon was thought to be a Tennessee lean until the Buzz Peterson ouster put the process into limbo. Ranked No. 33 nationally by noted authority Dave Telep of Scout.com, Gordon maintains a close relation with the aforementioned Smith as well as UT coaching staff holdover Chuck Benson who coached the Tennessee Travelers AAU team that featured the in-state standouts.

Gordon doesn't appear in a hurry to make a decision and has discussed taking official visits to Mississippi State, Florida and Pittsburgh this spring in addition to his scheduled visit to Knoxville on April 9-10.

Gordon averaged 19 points and 7.6 rebounds for Oak Hill last season and shored up his academic status and test scores to the point he now qualifies to take the official visits he couldn't take last fall. He shot over 60 percent from the field as a senior and was his team's second leading scorer and rebounder to help pace Oak Hill to a 34-2 mark. In one contest against Our Savior New American (New York) in the Champion Basketball Classic, Gordon recorded a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

One of only four top 50 prospects from the Class of 2005 that is still unsigned or uncommitted, Gordon is critical to both UT's recruiting class and hoop fortunes next fall.

Tennessee is also reportedly interested Desond Yates a 6-foot-7, 205-pound small forward from Fayette Ware High School in Somerville, Tenn. He is considering UT along with Ole Miss, which is an hour drive from his home, and UAB, where teammate Frank Holmes is committed.

The Vols new boss may also have an interest in obtaining a point guard with C.J. Watson entering his senior season and Dane Bradshaw being a suspect replacement. One of the better points left unsigned is Sharaud Curry of Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Curry has the essential quickness and solid handle of a lead guard as well as perimeter shooting skills.

He led Wheeler to a 31-1 record and the Class-5A state championship this year and No. 6 national ranking. In the title tilt against then No. 13 rated Norcross, Curry had 14 points, five boards, five dishes, two steals and a blocked shot. He scored a career-high 42 points in an 88-82 win over South Cobb as a junior. He started as a sophomore for the Wildcats, averaging 15.7 points and 5.8 assists while leading Wheeler to another state crown. Curry is reportedly interested in Miami, Mississippi. Nebraska and St. John's as well as Tennessee.

Another Peach Tree State basketball prize the Vols may be involved with is Jay Brown of Griffin, Ga. The sturdy 6-foot-7, 235-pound, power forward is a scoring threat with his back to the basket and has the quickness to beat a bigger defender off the dribble. He is considering Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Memphis, North Carolina State and Tennessee. Academics remain an issue with the talented Brown who is rated by Scout.com as one of the top 25 prospects still unsigned.

Tennessee's recruiting priorities could change if any current players decide to transfer, and the Vols new coach could find himself combing the junior college ranks for a late pickup.


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