Some may choose to focus on the big one that got away, but Tennessee still managed to put together a solid recruiting class even without the addition of Austin Nichols.
The three-man class of Travon Landry, A.J. Davis and Robert Hubbs III doesn’t equal the monster haul put together by Kentucky, but Vol coach Cuonzon Martin and his staff filled some needs. And if Nichols, the 6-8 forward from Memphis who wound up at the University of Memphis, was a big recruit, the five-star shooting guard Hubbs was just as important to the cause.
“I’m excited about this class,” Martin said. “Our fans are really going to enjoy watching these guys play. One thing that Travon, A.J. and Robert all have in common is that they come from tremendous families. They’ve got a really strong support network at home, and it shows. Obviously, they’re all high-character guys. They’re the type of kids I want representing Tennessee basketball.”
"The story of this class is the defense Cuonzo Martin played in his home state to get Robert Hubbs,” ESPN.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep told Nooga.com. “I think Hubbs is a lot like (former Oklahoma State star) James Anderson in that he's got size, a natural stroke and can be a primary scoring option. This one is going to be a signing that moves the program forward."
Tennessee might not be finished, though the Vols probably won’t sign another player during the early period. It’s possible Tennessee could dip into the junior college ranks to fill a need in the post. The aptly named Keanu Post, from Southwestern Illinois Community College, is 6-11 and 260 pounds. Tennessee has stayed in close communication with him in recent months. Post is reportedly considering Cincinnati, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Washington State in addition to the Vols.
ROBERT HUBBS III
Newbern, Tenn. (Dyer County HS)
Hubbs is currently a senior at Dyer County High School, and he chose UT over Auburn, Duke, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. A consensus five-star prospect, Hubbs is considered one of the elite scorers in the class of 2013.
He's rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 15 overall prospect and the No. 3 shooting guard in the country. 247Sports.com also rates Hubbs as the nation’s 15th best overall prospect as well as tabbing him as the country’s No. 2 shooting guard and the top overall prospect in the state of Tennessee.
“Not only does Robert have the ability to score at a very high level, but he also has the ability to facilitate, rebound and play great defense,” Martin said. “He’s also a guy who possesses outstanding leadership qualities and work ethic.”
Entering his senior season, Hubbs is already Dyer County’s all-time leading scorer (1,602 points). He also has 444 rebounds, 133 steals and 140 assists so far in his three-year career.
In June, Hubbs was one of 32 elite prep standouts invited to the USA Basketball U17 National Team trials in Colorado Springs, Colo.
According to ESPN.com recruiting analysts, Hubbs is a powerful finisher and an incredible athlete who is just starting to realize how good he can be.
“I just have a great feel for Tennessee,” Hubbs said. “It felt like I was a part of the family there. Everyone was so nice when I came to visit. And Knoxville is a great college town. I can’t wait to get there and help the team win ballgames and hopefully some trophies, too.”
Hubbs pointed to his relationship with Martin as a key factor in his decision.
“(Coach Martin) is just like another father to me – he’s just like my dad,” Hubbs said. “He’s a great person, and he’s always straight up with you. He doesn’t cut corners.”
Hubbs is coached at Dyer County High School by Derek McCord. He played AAU ball for M33M, which is coached by Ernie Kuyper. In April, Hubbs propelled the M33M Elite squad to the championship at the prestigious “Real Deal in the Rock” AAU event in Little Rock, Ark.
He is the second five-star prospect to sign with Tennessee in the past year, joining Memphis, Tenn., native Jarnell Stokes.
San Antonio, Texas (Huntington St. Joseph [W.Va.] Prep)
Landry, who picked Tennessee over Alabama, Auburn, and Vanderbilt, grew up in Texas before moving to Madison, Ala., in the summer of 2011 to attend Bob Jones High School. He is attending Huntington St. Joseph Prep for his senior year, where he is coached by Rob Fulford.
“Travon is a quick, defensive-minded point guard with good leadership skills,” Martin said. “He’s got a tremendous work ethic, and I really like the way he defends when he’s on the ball.”
With a roster boasting more than 10 Division I prospects, Huntington Prep entered the 2012-13 season ranked as the No. 1 high school team in America by MaxPreps.com and Hoopniks.com.
According to ESPN.com recruiting analysts, Landry is a pass-first point guard who is an extension of his head coach on the floor. He is more concerned with winning than stats, but has shown the ability to take over a game when his team needs him.
“The thing that excites me most about playing for coach Martin is how real he is with his players,” Landry said. “He’s 100 percent honest with his players all the time—whether it’s good or bad. So I feel like he’s a coach who’s going to help all his players reach and exceed their potential.”
After his first visit to Knoxville and the UT campus, Landry knew it was the place for him.
“When I first went to Knoxville, it just felt right,” Landry said. “We went up for an unofficial visit for a football game, and my parents and I talked about it right afterward. The whole environment and the city of Knoxville just felt right for me.”
As a junior in 2012, Landry led the Bob Jones Patriots to the semifinals of the Alabama Class 6A Area 15 Tournament and a final record of 29-2.
Landry’s coach at Bob Jones High School was Danny Petty. Current Lady Vols freshman forward Jasmine Jones also played her high school basketball at Bob Jones.
Landry played AAU basketball for the Alabama Challenge program, which is coached by Robert Shannon.
Buford, Ga. (Buford HS)
Davis is currently a senior at Buford High School and chose to sign with Tennessee over Auburn, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
“A.J. has great bloodlines when it comes to basketball,” Martin said. “At 6-8, he can play four different positions on the floor and has a really good feel for the game. He really competes, and I’m excited about his future.”
Davis played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Ga., winning back-to-back AA state championships. He averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He also participated at both the 2010 and 2011 National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.
After transferring to Buford for the 2011-12 academic year, he was forced to sit out the first 14 games of his junior season while waiting to be cleared by the GHSA. In the 2012 Region 6-AA semifinals, Davis powered Buford to a win over South Atlanta by scoring a career-high 32 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He averaged 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while leading the Wolves to a 22-8 record and the second round of the state playoffs as a junior.
“I chose Tennessee because I think it’s the best environment in the country,” Davis said. “First of all, you won’t find fans and support like Tennessee has anywhere else. I know coach Martin will make me the best person and player I can be. Tennessee is also a great academic school, so I know I’m going to get a great education – it’s just a great place overall.
“I’m excited to come in and contribute and help the team however I can.”
Davis is coached at Buford High School by Allen Whitehart and also played for the Georgia Stars AAU program, which is coached by William Steele.