Forward Progress

If Tennessee gets a perfect payoff from its impressive NCAA playoff run, it should result in the addition of a physical power forward with ball skills — a player that is board certified, a post-up threat, an agile athlete, a capable perimeter shooter and a pressure performer from the charity stripe.

That's actually a pretty good description of Romero Osby, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward from Northeast Lauderdale High School in Meridian, Miss, who is ranked the nation's No. 4 power forward by Scout.com and No. 31 overall prospect in the Class of 2008.

Only the fourth sophomore to ever earn a spot on the Clarion-Ledger's All-State team, Osby averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots per game in the 2006-2007 season, bouncing back from a wrist injury he suffered last July.

Already a true scoring threat with his back to the basket, Osby has developed his perimeter game the last two seasons and connected on 39 percent of his trey attempts as a sophomore. He can create his own shots off the dribble or adroitly slide off a screen to catch, stop, square and fire.

"My perimeter game had a lot of catching up to do with my post game because when I was younger I was inside a lot," Osby told Scout.com's National Recruiting director Dave Telep. "I'm comfortable on the wing but when I have a smaller player on me I want to go to the post. I like to take advantage of mismatches. If I get a guy 6-5 or so I like to take him to the post because I have an advantage in the post."

Osby's diversity allows him to play anything from low post to point forward for Northeast Lauderdale.

"For my high school team I played all five positions," he said. "Sometimes I was at the top of the zone, sometimes I was the point guard and sometimes I was able to post smaller players. Kind of like Kevin Durant does."

Osby is looking for a basketball program that will allow him to multitask on the court, and a school that offers an electrical engineering curriculum. He doesn't name a favorite, but his top schools are Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Alabama and Texas A&M. All six schools are intensely recruiting him and their head coaches have been making personal appearances to underscore their interest.

"You usually don't see Bill Self or Coach Pearl in Mississippi," Osby told Telep. "You see Coach Kirby and Coach Kennedy... It's weird. It's like they know who is texting me. It's like they knew who was coming."

Among the highlights these head coaches have witnessed in the recently completed campaign:

• A playoff win over Noxubee County in which Osby had 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. More significantly the four-star prospect hit a pair of free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining to put his team on top.

• An 80-59 playoff victory against Shannon in which Osby scored 27 points and pulled down 15 boards.

• A regular season victory over rival West Lauderdale that Osby spearheaded with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

• An 80-61 win over Kosciusko in which Osby shook off foul trouble to contributed 26 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

He appears to be an ideal fit for Tennessee's up tempo attack since he could provide much needed depth down low as well as play the swingman role that Dane Bradshaw flourished in as a Vol.

Certainly, a player with the ability of Romero Osby will be on a lot of wish lists, but he could be the missing piece to Tennessee's championship aspirations.


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