KNOXVILLE – After a busy couple of weeks for Tennessee’s basketball program, coach Cuonzo Martin made his first extended public statements about the departure of point guard Trae Golden and the decision to release incoming freshman point guard Travon Landry from his National Letter of Intent.
He also hinted that there could be a player coming into the program in the future as well.
Martin said the recent events have been tough on him, but he feels that he’s made the best decisions for all parties in recent events.
“In some ways it’s unfortunate,” Martin told WNML radio in Knoxville on Wednesday morning. “But you run a program, you always have to do what’s best for the program. You take one day at a time and try to do what’s best for young men.
“Everything I do, I do what’s best for my players. That’s without a doubt. This was a decision that was best for Trae Golden.”
Martin declined to go further into details about the circumstances surrounding Golden’s departure. Multiple reports have cited academic issues as the reason, while the Knoxville News Sentinel cited a source who gave “repeated plagiarism” as one of the reasons.
It appears that Martin and his staff are actively looking for outside help at the point guard position (click HERE to see a list of in-house players who could contribute at point guard next year). A vast majority of high school and junior college guards have already signed with a program at this point in the recruiting process, but there are a few transfer options UT could consider.
Antonio Barton (Memphis), Braxton Ogbueze (Florida) and Brian Greene Jr. (Auburn) are among the point guards who have left their former school and are currently exploring options. Barton would be eligible to play in 2013-14 due to an NCAA rule that allows undergrad graduates to transfer without penalty if they enroll in graduate school.
“We keep working – it’s part of your job,” Martin said. “We have some pretty good leads and we’ll see.”
The Vols have a scholarship open after Golden’s departure and the decision to release Landry, a three-star point guard recruit from Huntington (W.V.) Prep, from his scholarship obligations next year.
Martin said he made the decision on Landry completely independent of Golden’s situation. It was the first time in his coaching career that he let an incoming freshman go, but thought it was the right call for both sides.
“I just didn’t see the progress,” Martin said. “That part was tough, to call him and make that move. It’s my first time ever doing it – very, very hard. That decision was based on what I thought was best for Tennessee basketball and best for a young man. I did everything in power to help him find a landing place.”
Landry has since signed with New Mexico State.
Daniel Lewis covers University of Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanielNooga