KNOXVILLE—With only a small pool of players to choose from late in basketball recruiting season, Cuonzo Martin finished a job he started while he was building the Missouri State program.
That resulted in point guard Wes Washpun, the first official signee for Tennessee’s new coach.
“My relationship with Coach Martin was definitely a big factor in choosing Tennessee,” the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Washpun said in a statement released by UT after his signing Wednesday became official Thursday morning.
“Coach Martin started recruiting me late last year, and we hit it off right away,” Washpun said. “He always stayed in touch with me, even when he got to Tennessee, so I figured that was the man I wanted to play for. I definitely know the Tennessee fans are passionate about basketball. It’s going to be a great environment and a lot of fun.”
Washpun, rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, averaged 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, four assists and nearly four steals per game in his senior year at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He committed to the Volunteers last Sunday, spurning a late offer from the home-state Hawkeyes.
“I’m excited about what Wes can bring to the program,” Martin said. “He’s a quick, athletic guard who knows how to run a team. He’s a student of the game and someone who plays with great competitiveness.”
Memphis point guard Chris Jones is UT’s other signee in this class. After leading Melrose to the Class AAA state title as a junior a year ago, Jones started his senior year at Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy. He was dismissed in late January and returned to Melrose to finish out his senior year after a brief stint at Evelyn Mack Academy in Charlotte, N.C.
Washpun plans to enroll at UT this summer.
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 ...