Of Gyms and Genes

Attracting its fair share of prospects with NBA potential is the key to Tennessee's continued rise in the collegiate basketball ranks under the supreme command of head coach Bruce Pearl, but now the Vols appear in position to add an NBA product, or to put it more precisely a byproduct.

Renaldo Woolridge of Harvard-Westlake High School in North Hollywood, Calif., is the son of former NBA star Orlando Woolridge, who enjoyed a fruitful 13-year career in the Association. Even with that pedigree, Renaldo has experienced a precipitous rise as a national prospect that corresponds to a two-year growth spurt that saw him grow several inches to 6-foot-8.

However that type of victory against the forces of gravity requires some synchronization with coordination, and Woolridge proved he was making major progress in that respect over the summer. He had a particularly impressive showing at the Reebok tournament (RBK U) in July.

"My shot was really falling and I got into the all-star game and I was able to score a lot," he told Scout.com's Evan Daniels about his play with Belmont Shores AAU squad. "I think the whole experience of playing against the top competition and being able to perform helped me out a lot."

It's hard to argue that point. Before the RBK U tourney he had offers from Pepperdine and Arizona State. He has since added offers from Georgetown, Illinois, Marquette, USC and Tennessee, which comprise his five finalists.

"When I got back home I got calls from many schools that I had never heard from before," he recalled. "There were a lot of schools that I had heard from before, but my recruitment kind of went crazy and I got a lot more offers. I was really blessed to have it all."

Woolridge has also been blessed with a lot of ability that he has augmented through long hours in the gymnasium. He has a consistent medium range jumper and a very good handle for a player his size. He needs to increase his weight from the current 205 pounds to become the rebounder and defender he'll need to play the four spot in college. The late bloomer might not be through growing.

His size, long arms and athleticism make Woolridge a nice fit for the Vols pressure defense and up tempo attack. The four-star prospect is rated No, 20 among small forwards in the Class of 2008.

"I'm going to try and take all five officials. I'm trying to sign during the November signing period, so hopefully something will stand out to me and will make me want to commit to one of these schools.

"I just think I love all of the coaching staffs, I just like what I see with all of them."

He has a good guide through the recruiting process in his father, who played at Notre Dame before being taken No, 6 in the first round of the 1981 NBA Draft.

"He's been there and he gives me insight when I talk to him," Renaldo said. "When I was younger the traveling around and visiting different places kind of prepared me for all of this."

He is scheduled to visit Tennessee in October.

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