Last week, we wrote about the severe attrition facing new Vols basketball coach Donnie Tyndall. At the time, three of the four Tennessee commits had asked for releases from their letters of intent. Since then, all three have been released, and the last member of the class--Philip Cofer--has asked for release as well.
Tyndall granted Cofer's release, leaving Tennessee with an empty 2014 recruiting class and six open scholarships--not a lot to work with in your first year at a new school, especially when you don't get the job until after the spring signing period has already started. There are a lot of spots to fill and just not many players left with which to fill them. As we speculated last week, Tyndall very likely will not fill all six scholarships this season, but he needed to do something to give the team more than seven scholarship players for the entire 2014-15 season.
And Tyndall has gotten to work. There are rumors that he is trying to convince Quinton Chievous to hold off on his transfer plans, giving the Vols one more upperclassman, albeit one who hasn't contributed much in his first two seasons of play. And, while Tyndall has released all four 2014 signees, he is still actively recruiting Cofer, and while Cofer has not recommitted to Tennessee, he is listening to the Vols.
Today, Tyndall got his first commitment as head coach of Tennessee, from three-star power forward Jabari McGhee. McGhee, listed at 6'8" and 210 pounds, is a former Auburn commit who re-opened his recruitment when they changed coaches, and has been lighting things up at Hargrave Military Academy, averaging 24 points and 15 rebounds a game. He won't be the most heralded recruit, but he plays a position of need and helps fill out a painfully thin roster, making him a key addition to the 2014 class.
Tyndall is also working on JUCO guard Kevin Punter, who was committed to Missouri before their coaching change, and has already started making numerous offers for the 2015 and 2016 classes. If Tyndall were able to sign Cofer, McGhee, and Punter, as well as retaining Chievous, it would give the Vols 11 players on the roster and some semblance of class balance. The Vols would have four scholarships to give in 2015, four more in 2016, and three in 2017 (before further attrition, of course).
It's always hard to sign a game-changing class on short notice. Neither Bruce Pearl nor Cuonzo Martin were able to do it, and Donnie Tyndall probably won't either. But if he can find an overlooked gem or two and fill out the roster, while leaving himself plenty of scholarships to work with in 2015, he'll have done well. This is a start.