Pearl lands 6-5 point guard

Tennessee basketball fans who have been wondering who will inherit the point guard role when projected four-year starter C.J. Watson completes his senior year next March have an answer ... or at least a viable option.

Marques Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound combo guard from Fort Wayne, Ind., committed to new coach Bruce Pearl on Monday and plans to sign with UT in November. Johnson averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game as a junior.

Johnson, who will be a senior at Snider High School this fall, can play either guard spot but prefers the point. ''I like to be in control of the game,'' he told The Knoxville News-Sentinel.''

Eric Vaughn, Johnson's AAU coach, says Pearl recruited Johnson to play the point position.

Johnson made an unofficial visit to UT last weekend. Following his commitment, he told The News-Sentinel he ''felt comfortable with the staff and also feel they will get me better each day.''

Pearl's days as head man at Southern Indiana served him well in his pursuit of Johnson. Vaughn has known Pearl for many years and describes him as ''a winner.''

Johnson picked the Vols over North Carolina State, Indiana, Purdue, Arkansas, Georgetown, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. He is ranked the country's No. 29 senior prospect by Hoopmasters.com and No. 41 by Hoop Alliance.

Tennessee remains in contention for two more highly regarded point guard prospects -- 6-3 Jerry Smith of Wauwatosa, Wisc., and 6-2 Willie Kemp of Bolivar. Smith is a real longshot, however. He recently skipped a scheduled tour of UT and is expected to commit to Louisville later this week.


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