Tennessee has moved one step closer to finalizing its non-conference schedule for the upcoming season, as it was reported by Brendan F. Quinn of the Knoxville News Sentinel that the Volunteers have agreed to play a home-and-home series with N.C. State.
Cuonzo Martin’s Volunteers will host the first meeting during the 2013-14 season, with the return meeting being played during the 2014-15 season in Raleigh. Also on Tennessee’s non-conference schedule are Virginia (home), Wichita State (road) and Xavier (road).
The Volunteers will also participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis over Thanksgiving weekend. Joining Tennessee in what should be a solid in-season event are Kansas, Villanova, USC, Iowa, Xavier, Wake Forest and UTEP.
Tennessee (20-13, 11-7 SEC) missed out on the NCAA tournament last season, instead landing in the Postseason NIT where they lost at home to Mercer in the first round.
With guard Jordan McRae and forward Jarnell Stokes back, and the return of Jeronne Maymon after missing all of last season due to a knee injury, Tennessee can be one of the teams in the SEC that works its way into the NCAA tournament conversation.
Tennessee also adds Memphis transfer Antonio Barton at the point, and he should make them a better defensive team at the point of attack. While Trae Golden did manage to average 12.1 points and 3.9 assists per game last season, Barton is expected to be an upgrade from a defensive standpoint.
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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of Scout.com reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.
The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.
But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.
New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.
The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.