KNOXVILLE — Even after landing three new players, Cuonzo Martin’s late-spring recruiting efforts had one big glaring need.
Tennessee’s new basketball coach met that need Tuesday, when the Volunteers received a commitment from Yemi Makanjuola, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound center out of Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
Martin had landed a trio of perimeter players, but the Vols needed another player with size for next season. Kenny Hall (6-8) and Renaldo Woolridge (6-9), who is more of a swingman than a post, were UT’s tallest returning players.
Makanjuola, a native of Nigeria, enrolled at Oak Hill Academy last spring before spending this season at the same school that produced former Kentucky star John Wall. He went on a visit to Indiana before taking an official visit to UT last weekend.
UT also officially announced last Friday’s signing of Quinton Chievous, a 6-5, 200-pound wing out of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Ill., just north of Chicago.
“I just feel comfortable there,” Chievous said in a UT release, “But the main thing that really drew me to Tennessee was Coach Martin. I felt like he could help me improve and succeed at the next level, both on and off the court. Coach Martin is all about turning young men into men, and I like that a lot. I think at Tennessee I can really, really grow on the court and as a person.”
The son of Derrick Chievous, who left Missouri as the school’s all-time scoring leader before playing three years in the NBA, averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior in just his third year of playing organized basketball.
“Quinton has a lot of the characteristics coaches love,” Martin said. “He’s a hard worker who’s dedicated to putting time in to continue to enhance his skills. He’s very athletic and is a great competitor. He has the tools to be a really good player because he can do a lot of different things.”
Point guard Wes Washpun from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and wing Josh Richardson from Edmond, Okla., are the Vols’ other two signees in the 2011 class.
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 ...