Cuonzo Martin has spent all of 18 months on the job at Tennessee, taking over a program that had lost their best players to the NBA after Bruce Pearl lost his job.
But it didn’t take long for him to turn things about in Knoxville. Tennessee finished tied for second in the conference last season, as Martin instilled a brand of hard-nosed, defensive-minded hoops, and are among the favorites to battle it out for first runner-up behind Kentucky again this season.
That initial success in the SEC should give Vol fans plenty of confidence heading into Martin’s second season on the job, because for the second time in just nine months, he’s landed a five-star recruit from the state of Tennessee.
This time it’s Robert Hubbs, a consensus top 20 recruit from Dyer County, TN. The 6-foot-4 Hubbs had a huge spring and summer, rocketing up recruiting rankings while collecting scholarship offers from the likes of Florida, Duke, Memphis and Missouri. Hubbs is a big-time scorer from the wing whose range has been lauded by scouts. He committed after a visit to Knoxville over the weekend.
Hubbs joins Jarnell Stokes as Tennessee natives that joined the Vol family. Stokes is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Memphis that enrolled at Tennessee half-a-year early last December. He’ll be a preseason all-SEC pick this season in what should have been his freshman year.
The fact that Martin was able to beat out some big name programs for Hubbs is important. There is some basketball talent in the state, especially in the city of Memphis (which is a couple of hours from where Hubbs attends high school), and the more that Martin can tap into that pipeline, the better it will be for the program.
It’s also worth noting that Hubbs plays for the M33M AAU team with Austin Nichols, a top 20 recruit that lives in Memphis.