Vols Land Big Center To Crown Class of 2003

Tennessee crowned the Vols basketball Class of 2003 before the end of September 2002 when center prospect Major Wingate, 6-9, 245, announced for the Vols today.

Wingate, who transferred to North Gwinnett High School in Buford, Ga., from Wilson High School in Florence, S.C., to play his senior year will sign in November. He joins Memphis point guard Dane Bradshaw and a pair of transfers, small forward Scooter McFadgon and power forward Jamere Hendrix who enrolled at UT after respectively gaining releases from Memphis and Clemson.

Wingate also chose Tennessee over Clemson which was in the running along with Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. Maryland also seriously recruited Wingate. He originally gave a verbal to South Carolina, but later reopened the recruiting process.

With Wingate on board, the Vols will likely disengage from further pursuit of Little Rock, Ark., forward Vincent Hunter and Wesley Green a power forward from Eustis, Fla. Tennessee has been listed as a finalist with both players. Hunter was also considering Arkansas while Florida State was the other school involved with Green.

Wingate took an official visit to Tennessee on Sept. 7 and the Vols immediately moved to the top of his list. He brings size, strength, athleticism and an ability to score both inside and outside to the table. He's also a superb shot blocker with excellent upside, although his intensity has been called into question from time to time.

The Insiders national basketball analyst Dave Telep provides the following evaluation of Wingate.

"Has been on the national radar since his freshman season. About the same size he was as a freshman and is kind of the mystery man of the class. Has the potential to be a super player, but often times isn't a factor as he floats in and out of games. When he's on, he's a big man who can step out and drill jumpers. Also a big time shot blocker when he chooses to be."

Wingate will join other front-line candidates Elgrace Wiborn, Brandon Crump, Boomer Herndon and Andy Ikeakor.

Wingate is rated No. 13 at the center position by The Insiders and is generally regarded as a top 50 talent.

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