Cuonzo Martin smiles as he speaks to reporters during a news conference Monday, March 28, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. after being named the new men's head basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, replacing Bruce Pearl. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
KNOXVILLE – Cuonzo Martin is almost done finishing his new staff.
Now Tennessee’s new basketball coach waits to see how his roster will look.
Martin confirmed on Tuesday afternoon the hiring of Nebraska assistant Tracy Webster, who will take the third and final assistant position on UT’s staff, and hinted that Houston Fancher may be UT’s director of basketball operations.
“I don’t know, we’re still waiting. I think Houston’s our man,” Martin said. “He’s done a great job for us, and he knows the lay of the land better than anybody.”
Fancher, a former head coach at Appalachian State, was UT’s coordinator of video scouting under former coach Bruce Pearl’s staff and was named interim head coach after Pearl was fired.
The 39-year-old Webster, a former point guard at Wisconsin, spent this past season at Nebraska after a season at DePaul, where he was briefly an interim coach. He was an assistant on Billy Gillispie’s staff at Kentucky (2007-09), spent three years under Bruce Weber at Illinois and coached with Martin on Gene Keady’s staff during the 2003-04 season.
With his coaching staff complete, Martin turns his attention to his current team with individual workouts this week and recruiting, which will start Thursday when he and some his staff will visit with both of UT’s signees, guards Kevin Ware (Conyers, Ga.) and Chris Jones (Memphis).
How many players the Vols sign to this class could depend on if Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson remain in the NBA draft. Neither has signed with an agent.
“Scotty’s actually in New Jersey working out, and he’ll be back,” Martin said. “He needs to do the paperwork, but he’s definitely going to put his name in the (NBA) draft.”
Harris and Hopson have until May 8 to withdraw from the draft, a date that’s 10 days before the end of the spring signing period for recruits, which starts April 13.
“For us, we think those guys will be in our program, but they also have to what’s best for them as well, “ Martin said. “You also have to be fair and smart about what you’re doing. This is a big deal for those guys.
“They want to be pros, and that’s their goal. They have ability, and they have the potential. I think those guys will be pros whether it’s this year or next year. I don’t think you can rush guys to make a decision. They have to get the most informed opinions (and) the best information possible to make a decision. That doesn’t happen overnight.”
The departure of five scholarship seniors would leave the Vols with seven scholarship players for next season if Harris and Hopson leave for the NBA.
“We’ll sign the type of guys we want to have in our program,” Martin said. “I like to have at least 10 guys on scholarship. With that being said, it varies with Scotty and Tobias depending on what they’re going.
More coverage online and in Wednesday's Times Free Press. Follow Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrownTFP.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...