Vols Eye Sharpshooter

If Tennessee's winning formula of stifling defense, withering pace and shooting excellence is to hold form next season the Vols need to replace a pair of stellar shooters as well as a lead guard with excellent range.

That doesn't mean Bruce Pearl has to sign three players to replace Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith and Jordan Howell, but it does mean Ramar Smith, J.P. Prince, Josh Tabb will need to pose more of a perimeter threat. And it would help if another gunner is brought aboard.

The most intriguing potential perimeter performer left in a national crop that was largely consumed during the early signing period is Brad Tinsley of Oregon City, Ore., a 6-foot-4, 190-pound combo guard with uncanny range and a diverse game.

Tinsley became available after gaining a release from Pepperdine University following a January coaching change there. Freed from that agreement he is now back on the market, and the market for his services is red hot since he is one of only seven Top 100 prospects available.

Last week representatives from North Carolina, Arizona State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee were on hand to see him play against Lakeridge. Other schools to see him since his release from Pepperdine include Utah, Oregon, Portland and Fresno State. Wake Forest, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Marquette, Notre Dame, Drake, Colorado, California, Oregon State, Oklahoma, Butler and Saint Louis have all contacted him.

Tinsley didn't have that much interest when he first committed to Pepperdine last August, although his stock had risen steadily through a summer of good showings. One of those was in July at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Scout.com analyst Tracy Pierson filed the following report on that appearance.

"Brad Tinsley, 6-4 senior guard, Oregon City (Ore.) High, was very impressive at the LeBron James Skills Academy this week. He probably was among the few best decision-makers here, very rarely making a mistake. He's deceptive quick, able to get to the basket with a good burst and strength and convert. And then there's that shot. He was truly among the few best shooters in Akron. There might be a question of what guard position he plays, possibly struggling to guard high-major point guards, but that is just a small issue of labeling. If Tinsley's one of the guys in your backcourt you should be happy."

There is a some risk to being released but Tinsley didn't feel any fear of failure. The very day he was granted his release he went out and scored 37 points in a victory over Milwaukee (Ore.) Putnam.

He is averaging 23 points and six assists per game as a senior has Oregon City atop the state Class-6A polls with a 19-1 mark. He averaged 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game as a junior. He hit 59 percent of his field goals, 82 percent from the foul line and 38 percent of his three-point shots. Tinsley has surpassed the 2000-point mark for his career, 30 of which he scored against prep power Oak Hill Academy in the Les Schwab Invitational.

Soon after Tinsley broke into the Scout.com top 100 prospects nationally at No. 95. He could have waited until the spring signing period and broadened his options, but stuck by his verbal to Pepperdine because he saw it as a good fit for his game.

"He was really anxious to play for Coach (Vance) Walberg in that system," his father Carl Tinsley told Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "They were up tempo and that would have given him a chance to get into the open court, which he does really well and he was going to be a point guard."

"With [Walberg] leaving and the unknown at Pepperdine, we felt like it was important for us to see who else might be interested. He didn't take any visits except to Pepperdine. He took some unofficials, but the only official was to Pepperdine."

As things worked out his early signing and subsequent release are beneficial because now he is one of the very few high major combo guards available. Every school in the chase has a real need and he has the liberty to shop for the best match. Given his preference for an up-tempo attack that opens the floor, no team does it better than Tennessee.

Add the Vols' losses at both the shooting guard and lead guard and Tinsley would project as a rotation regular. The importance of having a guard with his skill set is that he would add length to court for defenses forced to shut down the drive to the basket in transition first and then recover to defend the perimeter. That plays perfectly into Tennessee's press and pace.

Furthermore he could push the ball on the break and either take the pull-up jumper or feed to a trailer. His versatility and shooting range complement UT's pace and quickness by creating space that be exploited. Likewise Tennessee's athleticism and breakneck tempo would produce open looks for Tinsley, who will similarly extend the defense in half-court mode.

California, Gonzaga, Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Pepperdine, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington are among the teams to get Tinsley's attention but he appears wide open and doesn't plan to even schedule visits until his senior season concludes. Cal, Utah, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest have made offers. Pepperdine's offer also still stands.

"We are in no rush," Tinsley's father Carl said. "We are going to let him play and I'm going to try and filter things out and eventually in a couple of weeks we'll sit down and I'll show him the list and try to get some feedback."

That plays favorably into Vols' situation and schedule since the ongoing season and exposure makes their case, and they can further evaluate available options.

Translation: They're waiting on Scotty Hopson.

And who could blame them?

Still Tinsley would be a nice consolation prize and a seemingly excellent fit.

Get either of those two prospects on his side and Pearl is well on his way to a rapid rebuilding project. Find a way to get them both and the Vols are rebuilt.

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