Top Recruit Says Tennessee Faces Recruiting ‘Problem’
Adonis Thomas, a Top 15 recruit in the Class of 2011, says he’s still considering attending Tennessee but that the NCAA investigation into Bruce Pearl’s program constitutes a “problem.”
“I’m still considering them but like anyone that will always be a problem,” the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Memphis native ranked as the No. 6 small forward in the Class of 2011 said Wednesday by phone following an official visit to Tennessee last weekend.
“You don’t want to go to a school that takes the [NCAA] tournament away from you. You go to school to play in the tournament. You’re playing for nothing [if there’s no tournament]. That’s a big thing but I’m still considering them. They’re still one of the schools on my list.”
Tennessee hasn’t been penalized with the loss of postseason tournament appearances, but the school announced it would cut Pearl’s pay by $1.5 million over five years and prohibit him from participating in off-campus recruiting for a year beginning Sept. 24 after Pearl acknowledged last week that he gave misleading and incorrect information to the NCAA about possible violations during a 17-month investigation of his program.
CBSSports.com and the Knoxville News Sentinel both reported that a 2008 photo of recruit Aaron Craft at Pearl’s home during an unofficial visit is a primary component of the NCAA’s investigation into the program.
CBSSports.com reported that Craft, now a freshman at Ohio State, and Josh Selby, now a frosh at Kansas, visited Pearl’s home “later that same year,” when they were both juniors.
That constitutes a violation of NCAA rules because coaches are not permitted to “engage” juniors off campus, CBSSports.com reported.
“I learned that it’s not OK to tell the truth most of the time, but that you have to tell the truth all the time,” Pearl said during Friday’s news conference after school officials announced they had received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA. “I have no tolerable answer for why I didn’t tell the truth the first time, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
CBSSports.com reported that an attempt to contact Pearl Tuesday was unsuccessful. Craft’s father, John Craft, said he had no comment about whether his son had visited Pearl at Pearl’s home in fall 2008.
The News Sentinel reported that Aaron Craft, reached by text message, said he and his family were told not to comment and all questions should be directed to Ohio State.
Thomas, one of several top players considering Tennessee, along with Brewster (N.H.) Academy forward JaKarr Sampson, acknowledged that the self-imposed recruiting sanctions would be tough on Tennessee.
“It will be hard for their recruiting,” Thomas said. “They’re not gonna be able to come out and watch players during the high school season and during the AAU season. So it’s gonna be hard for them. Tennessee is a good school so they shouldn’t have too much of a problem.”
Despite the controversy swirling around Tennessee, Thomas said he enjoyed his recent visit.
“It was great,” he said. “I enjoyed myself. I got a chance to see the new guys that they recruited and I got a chance to speak with the coaching staff and get familiar with some of the guys that I didn’t know.”
Thomas will also visit Arkansas (Sept. 24), UCLA (Oct. 2), Florida (Oct. 9) and Memphis (Oct. 15)
“No school is higher than the other,” he said. “They’re all even. “I’m still getting a chance to see the campus and getting to know everyone.”
Baylor junior J’mison Morgan, who played the last two seasons at UCLA, has been granted his transfer waiver request by the NCAA. The 6-foot-10 center is eligible to play the 2010-11 season for the Bears once he completes the necessary NCAA compliance paperwork, and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining…University of Washington sophomore Tyreese Breshers’ playing career has come to an end due to medical reasons, Husky Coach Lorenzo Romar announced on Wednesday. The medical reason will not be disclosed due to HIPAA regulations…St. Benedict`s Prep guard Vaughn Gray picked up offers this week from Manhattan and Drexel. “I expect many more in the near future,” according to assistant coach Billy Diamond, who’s coordinating his recruitment. Gray visits George Mason Oct. 2 & Fordham & URI before Oct. 5
(The AP contributed)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.