Projecting Pearl's Puzzle

The addition of Philadelphia forward Maurice Thomas ensures that new Vol basketball coach Bruce Pearl will have at least one player who fits his style of play next season.

Thomas, who has committed to Tennessee since last weekend's official visit, is a 6-8, 210-pound forward from Lutheran Christian Academy who averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game last winter. He reportedly has excellent quickness and jumping ability, which makes him a nice fit for the uptempo game Pearl is bringing to Knoxville.

A second Vol who should fit into Pearl's style is rising senior Stanley Asumnu. He's a 6-5 small forward who is very good in the transition game but proved alarmingly turnover-prone in former coach Buzz Peterson's halfcourt offense.

Another player who could thrive in Pearl's system is Andre Patterson, the slender 6-7 transfer from UCLA. Like Thomas, he is a post player who relies more on quickness and finessse than size ans strength. He could blossom under Pearl after contributing modestly last year under Peterson.

Pearl's uptempo game also could prove to be a godsend for former walk-on JaJuan Smith. The 6-1 combo guard is one of Tennessee's quicker players, so he could earn some serious playing time in an uptempo attack.

Though he is not particularly quick, guard Chris Lofton also could thrive in Pearl's system. Lofton is a superb 3-point shooter who will get a lot of open looks in a transition-oriented attack.

That said, here's an early projection of next year's depth chart:

CENTER: Major Wingate (6-10), Jemere Hendrix (6-8), Damion Harris (6-9)

POWER FORWARD: Andre Patterson (6-7), Maurice Thomas (6-8), Matthew Dotson (6-8)

SMALL FORWARD: Stanley Asumnu (6-5), Dane Bradshaw (6-3)

SHOOTING GUARD: Chris Lofton (6-2), Jordan Howell (6-3) or JaJuan Smith (6-1)

POINT GUARD: C.J. Watson (6-2), JaJuan Smith (6-1) or Dane Bradshaw (6-3)

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