Smith's concerns are understandable. He signed four months ago with the understanding he'd play college ball for Peterson. Now there's a new sheriff in town (Pearl) and Smith doesn't know anything about his personality, his coaching style or his system. This type of situation comes up quite often in college hoops.
When Jerry Green replaced Kevin O'Neill eight years ago, Green had to re-recruit Tony Harris, who had signed with O'Neill the previous November. Green succeeded in keeping Harris. When Peterson replaced Green four years ago, he had to rerecruit Elgrace Wilborn, who had signed with Green the previous November. Wilborn requested a release to sign with Michigan State (closer to his Ohio home) but Peterson refused. Wilborn eventually relented and honored his UT scholarship.
In addition to re-recruiting Tyler Smith, Pearl is looking to nail down another prep superstar, Jamont Gordon of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Gordon, a 6-4 wing player also ranked among the top 50 prospects nationally, is making his official visit to campus this weekend.
Obviously, Smith and Gordon would represent a serious upgrade in talent for a Tennessee roster that desperately needs one. Both are the type of athletic, hardnosed guys perfectly suited to Pearl's up-tempo style. Landing both would give the new coach a much better chance to get UT hoops back on track sooner, rather than later.
Clearly, Tennessee basketball season starts today.