Southern Comfort

With redshirt freshman center Damion Harris gone and another basketball scholarship available to Bruce Pearl and his crack staff at Tennessee, all eyes turn to Josh Southern of Saginaw, Mich.

At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is the largest and truest pivot prospect the Vols have offered in the Class of 2007 and, ranked No. 10 at his position by, he is also the highest rated.

He also intends to sign somewhere in November and UT appears to one of the five favorites for his hardwood services, although his list of contenders is nearly double that figure.

"Right now I still have Boston College, Wake Forest, Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Ohio State on my list," Josh told Stephen John of Kentucky Sports Report, "but I am making plans to visit Miami, Kentucky, Tennessee, Boston College and Wake Forest so I guess that means something."

One thing it says is that the home state Michigan and Michigan State aren't necessarily the schools to beat. And with four of the schools he intends to visit in the South, it also suggests he's not concerned about straying from home. In fact, it might surprise some to learn that he actually grew up following football in the South more than college basketball in general.

"Not at all," Josh said when asked if he grew up a fan of the Wolverines and Spartans, "actually I grew up playing football. For a long time that's what I thought I'd be, a football player. We lived in the South then, and I grew up rooting for Alabama and Tennessee football. I really haven't been a big Michigan or Michigan State fan."

Southern, who averaged 10 points and 16 rebounds per game as a high school junior, has seen his stock rise sharply during the summer both on the camp circuit and during AAU play for the Michigan Mustangs.

One of the most impressive rebounders in his class, Southern ranks No. 77 among prospects nationally. He runs the floor well and poses a strong defensive presence in the paint. He has a comfortable shooting range of about 15 feet, but needs to develop as low post scorer.

With both the Vols and Cats in need of a big rebounder who can ignite the transition game, the recruiting war for Josh Southern could come down to a battle of SEC East Division powers.

"I hope to have my decision made in late November," he said. "I want to take all my visits and sit down and decide which school is best for me."

Expect the Vols to roll out the orange carpet and show this prize post prospect a little Southern hospitality.

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