Looking to restock a roster losing four senior starters, Chattanooga coach John Shulman reached two hours southeast for more firepower.
A little before 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, shooting guard Eric Robertson pledged a commitment to UTC basketball from inside Lee High School in Huntsville, Ala. The 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior became the fourth member of Shulman’s 2012 recruiting class, joining 6-foot-2 shooting guard Gervaughn McGhee (Baton Rouge, La.), 6-foot-7 power forward Josh Warren (Marietta, Ga.) and 6-foot-1 point guard Farad Cobb (West Palm Beach, Fla.), who played alongside Robertson as an AAU player for ATL XPress.
“Finally committing was great,” Robertson said by phone Tuesday. “It’s like no other feeling, especially after being recruited for so long and all the phone calls. It’s nice to finally make a decision and have all that be over with. It was a relief.”
According to Lee head coach Greg Brown, Robertson averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as a senior. During a three-year varsity career, he was a catalyst in three straight runs to the Alabama Class 5A title game, including a state championship victory in 2010.
“He’s a winner,” Brown said.
Robertson said he ultimately choose Chattanooga over Wofford and Mercer, among the “20 or so” scholarship offers he received. Asked what sold him on the Mocs, he responded, “It was Coach Shulman. I just have confidence in Coach Shulman and what he’s saying. I was most comfortable being around him and I feel like I want him to be my coach. That was the biggest thing.”
Mandated by the UTC athletic department to recruit without the aide of tapping the junior college ranks, Shulman has plenty of minutes to offer next season. Seniors Keegan Bell, Jahmal Burroughs, Ricky Taylor and Omar Wattad combined to play 106.7 minutes per game and attempted 53.7 percent of the team’s shot attempts in 2011-12.
“That was big,” said Robertson, an Alabama Sports Writers Association Class-5A first-team all-state selection. “I really think I can come in and play early. With all those guys leaving, I’d love to be able to step right in help out as soon as I get there.”
Brown barely came up for air when dumping praise upon Robertson.
“He can do it all,” the coach said. “He plays with great intensity, he’s full of energy, he’s really physical, he’s athletic, he’s smart on the floor and has a perfect personality that any coach would love to have.”
Off the floor, Robertson boasts a 3.9 GPA, according to Brown.
While McGhee, Warren and Cobb were early commitments to UTC, Robertson is the first recruit to sign on with the Mocs following a disastrous 2011-12 season. Chattanooga finished 11-21 overall and landed in the Southern Conference North Division basement.
According to Brown, rumors surrounding Shulman’s job security were hard to ignore following the season.
Ultimately, though, Robertson’s decision wasn’t swayed.
“We were kind of assured that this wasn’t going to be (Shulman’s) last season,” Brown said. “Eric is really crazy about him and I think it sounds like (Shulman) and (UTC athletic director Rick Hart) have a great relationship.
“When we looked at (Shulman’s) overall record, we were trying to figure out why they would let this guy go. His overall record said that there was one bad season, but look what he has done for the school. I just can’t see an AD letting someone go because they had one bad season. … I know that Eric wants to get in there, play hard, and make sure that Coach Shulman gets to stay.”
The Mocs have one remaining scholarship to offer for next year’s roster. It’s expected Shulman will offer it to a fifth 2012 player.