KNOXVILLE – Tennessee center Yemi Makanjuola has been granted a release from the Vols’ basketball program and will seek to transfer, the school confirmed on Saturday morning.
Makanjuola, a reserve post player, appeared in 57 games and averaged 1.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game during his career in Knoxville.
“Yemi and I came to a mutual agreement that it would be in his best interest for him to get a fresh start with a new program,” coach Cuonzo Martin said via a release. “Yemi is leaving Tennessee on good terms. He’s respected by his teammates and coaches, we all appreciate the work he’s put in during his time here and I’m confident that he’ll be successful.”
Originally from Nigeria, Makanjuola was recruited to Martin’s first signing class as a three-star center out of Raleigh, N.C., where he attended Word of God Christian Academy. Despite his limited offensive skillset, Makanjuola became a reliable post defender and rebounder for the Vols.
After seeing regular reserve work early in the 2012-13 season, his minutes dwindled as the Vols utilized a four-guard lineup. He only played in one of the team’s last four contests and only totaled seven points from February on.
“It’s been a great privilege to be a part of the Volunteer family for the past two years,” Makanjuola said. “I want to thank the Tennessee fans for all the support they’ve shown me, and I hope they’ll continue to show my teammates here great support in the future. Tennessee is going to have a great team next year, and that will be good for the fans to see.
“But the best thing for me right now is to continue to pursue my dream with another school. I’ll never forget the memories from my time at Tennessee, but I’m also excited about what’s next for me. Go Vols!”
His departure means there are now 14 players expected back in 2013-14, but only 13 scholarship slots available. Rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes has until April 28 to decide if he’s going pro early or not. The Vols signed junior college post player Rawane Ndiaye earlier this week and return rising senior Jeronne Maymon after he missed all of last year with a knee injury.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanielNooga