Memphis Guard Goes Gators

Brandon Powell's commitment to Florida may have momentarily slowed Bruce Pearl's momentum in Memphis, but it's hardly the blow to UT's basketball program that losing Corey Brewer was last year.

When the Portland, Tenn., star pledged his allegiance to the Gators, he was the No. 1 prospect in the state and one of the top small forwards in the nation. Powell, of Mitchell Road High School isn't a top four prospect in Memphis and remains unranked by Scout.com in the nation's current recruiting class.

Brewer, a five-star prospect, averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds per game as a senior, while Powell, a three-star prospect, averaged 15 points and six boards as a junior. Brewer was seen as the centerpiece of coach Buzz Peterson's recruiting class. Pearl already has commitments from a couple of top 50 prospects in Wayne Chism and Marques Johnson.

Brandon Powell would have been a nice addition to what is shaping up as one of the best recruiting classes in Vol basketball history, but he doesn't appear to be a make or break talent. Nor is he likely to be the piped piper of hardwood blue chipper that he envisions.

"I want to tell the Florida fans to come in and support," Powell told Bob Redman of Gator Country.com after going public with his choice. "We are going to get a Memphis, Tennessee to Florida dynasty going."

In light of that declaration it's worth noting that Thaddeus Young, his five-star teammate doesn't even list Florida among his 13 schools of interest much less his seven favorites. However Tennessee is a finalist for Young, who is rated No. 16 nationally by Scout.com.

Getting a commitment from Young is probably a long shot for the Vols, but being a finalist for his services is a good barometer of how far Pearl and staff have come in four months on the job.

Additionally, UT remains a solid contender for No. 6 point guard Willie Kemp, a teammate of Chism's at Bolivar High School in Memphis. The Vols are also in the hunt for 6-7, 240-pound power forward Pierre Niles of Memphis Ridgeway, and were recently named a finalist for the nation's No. 7 power forward Stanley Robinson of Birmingham Huffman High School, who is another five-star prospect.

With Powell out of play expect UT to intensify it's interest in shooting guard Adrion Graves of Cincinnati Hughes Center High School as well as Xavier Keeling a small forward out of J.O. Johnson High School in Huntsville, Ala., and Verice Cloyd a shooting guard from Genesis One High School in Mendenhall, Miss.

Obviously, Team Pearl isn't taking all of its shots at one basket.


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