Hosting Hardwood Stars

Big Orange basketball under the wildly popular Bruce Pearl enters a new phase in October, as he begins practice for his third season on The Hill while attempting to put the finishing touches on his fourth signing class.

Tennessee had an unofficial visit from Cincinnati Harmony Prep point guard Terrell Holloway last Saturday and play host to Collierville combo guard Elliot Williams, Dunwoody, Ga, small forward Chris Singleton and North Hollywood power forward Rolando Woolridge on Oct. 6.

That's the Saturday of the Georgia game which will be a big visit weekend for UT's football team as well. The difference is that Pearl can close his class with commitments from a couple of prospects, and then he can sign them in November.

The most exciting aspect of this cosmic alignment is the stars themselves. The brightest is Williams a five-star talent who is rated the nation's No. 4 shooting guard by Scout.com and he's the top prospect in Tennessee. He averaged 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists as a junior and further solidified his elite status through AAU competition.

Williams has whittled his finalists list to four including Duke, Virginia, Memphis and Tennessee. He took an official visit to Duke last weekend, he goes to Virginia next weekend followed by his visit to UT and wraps up his officials at Memphis.

The Blue Devils made a very favorable impression on Williams and have set a high standard for the other contenders to surpass.

"It was a great visit," he told John Watson of the Devils Den "It was a great chance to meet the players and catch up with the coaches and to see everything from a players' perspective. Overall I was very impressed with everything."

Williams feels he will get a chance to play as a freshman for the Blue Devils and could fill several roles.

"Duke doesn't offer a lot of players, and Coach told me that he expects me to come in and compete right away," he said. "If he didn't think I could play at Duke's level he wouldn't be recruiting me. It was good to hear that from him, because he's been around the best consistently. He said he sees me fitting in at a lot of different positions."

Ultimately, after all his visits and evaluations, Williams' decision could simply come down to his feelings.

"It'll probably come down to where I feel the most comfortable," he told Watson. "Where I can step in and have a chance to play and contribute, and where I can get a great education that will help after basketball is over. I'm going to take all the visits and then look at everything. Duke has certainly set the bar very high though."

Singleton is a prospect the Vols have pursued diligently because of his elite athleticism and versatility. The 6-foot-8, 210-pound power forward, who is ranked No. 8 at his position nationally, transferred to Dunwoody for his senior season after he was dismissed from Cherokee for alleged discipline problems. Apparently the dismissal had no impact on his recruiting as he holds offers from Louisville, Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, Florida State and Cincinnati among others.

He attended basketball camp at UT in June and from all indications has developed a sound relationship with Coach Pearl and his staff. Sources near the Singleton feel Tennessee is the school to beat and it's the only official visit he currently has scheduled. However Singleton doesn't know if he will sign in November or wait to Spring.

"I am pretty interested in that visit," he told Stephen John of Kentucky Sports Report. "Coach Pearl has been a coach that I have developed a respect for. He is a coach that is going to take good care of you like one of his own kids when you get there. I know my family would appreciate that."

Woolridge, 6-8, 205, is a prospect who opened eyes after a particularly impressive showing at the Reebok tournament (RBK U) in July. The son of former NBA All-Star Orlando Woolridge, he has undergone a growth spurt the last two years and his game appears to have caught up with his frame. He reports high interest in Georgetown which he will visit next weekend, Tennessee, Illinois, Marquette and USC.

Terrell Holloway has emerged as Tennessee's top target at point guard. Pearl has signed and or pursued several combo guards during his time at UT but at 6-0, 175, Holloway is a pure point guard who could give the Vols roster a missing component. He is ranked No. 16 among the nation's crop of lead guards. He visited UT last weekend and rates the Vols as his favorite. Because he has yet to take his ACT the visit to Knoxville was unofficial but it made quite an impression on Holloway.

"It was real nice and everything," Holloway told Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "The football game was crazy. I liked it. It was my first time down there.

"They showed me about the tradition of the football team and the Tennessee walk, where they had 50,000 people outside of the stadium before the game. They were showing a ton of love. People wanted autographs from us and were taking pictures of us."

Holloway is also considering Gonzaga, Nevada, Virginia, Oregon State and St. John's.

The Vols have a commitment from Chattanooga post player Phillip Jurick and could sign as many as three other prospects in the Class of 2008. That means UT's 2008-2009 basketball team will be comprised of only Pearl signees.


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