Tennessee’s basketball team saw its season end at the hands of upstart Mercer in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night, but there’s still work to be done for the coaching staff as it already begins to focus on 2013-14.
Coach Cuonzo Martin is hoping to get some good news on Saturday night from Murfreesboro Blackman point guard Darius Thompson, whose team played last week in the Class AAA tournament, where it lost in the first round to Beech.
During the course of the season, it became obvious to Tennessee’s coaches that point guard Trae Golden needed some relief help, or maybe even a push, to derive maximum benefit out of the talented but inconsistent junior. The Vols have already signed a point guard, Travon Landry of Huntsville, Ala. who’s playing at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep this season, but the word among recruiting analysts is that he’s not an SEC-level player.
Thus, the interest in Thompson, whose father Lonnie is the head coach at Cumberland (Tenn.) University and reportedly wants his son to play for Martin.
Thompson will announce his decision in Nashville on Saturday night at the Mid-State All-Star Showcase. And if he decides on the Vols, which has been widely speculated, Martin will have a decision to make, too, because counting Landry he already has the full allotment of 13 scholarship players.
Thompson didn’t sign last November and became a hot commodity for power conference teams after leading Blackman to an undefeated regular season. He committed to Vanderbilt in January but changed his mind after he found out the Commodores, who start sophomore Kedren Johnson at the point, also have another sophomore point, Tulsa transfer, Eric McClellan becoming eligible next season.
Thompson de-committed in February and reopened his recruiting. Several ACC and SEC schools have expressed interest, notably, Alabama, Missouri, Florida State and Virginia.
At 6-foot-4, Thompson is considered by recruiting analysts to be a combo guard, but he’s been ticketed as a point for the Vols.
“Thompson is a combination guard with good size and length that allows him to excel on and off the ball,” wrote an ESPN recruiting analyst. “He is a good ball handler and passer with good court vision and has the ability to score on the break and can hit the open 3, mostly off the catch. He has a good feel for the game and matching basketball IQ. Thompson has the ability to defend both guard positions as well.”