KNOXVILLE — One big body wasn’t enough, so Cuonzo Martin nabbed another one.
Tennessee’s new basketball coach added a second post player in the span of a week when Dwight Miller, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward from Midland (Texas) Junior College, signed with the Volunteers on Thursday. He became the fifth member of Martin’s first Vols recruiting class.
“The coaches were definitely a big factor in me choosing Tennessee,” Miller said in a UT release. “I like and respect the coaches for many different reasons. They showed me that they were loyal and committed to their players.”
A native of the Bahamas, Miller signed with Pittsburgh out of St. Pius X High School in Houston. After redshirting his freshman year, Miller averaged 5.3 minutes in 16 games during the 2009-10 season for the Panthers. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Rated the nation’s No. 10 junior college player by JucoJunction.com, Miller averaged 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and helped lead Midland to the NJCAA title game this past season.
“Dwight started his career at Pitt, so he has an understanding of what it takes to play at this level,” Martin said. “He’s a physical player who plays hard all the time and can play inside and outside. He’ll be a good addition for us.”
Yemi Makanjuola, a 6-9, 235-pound center who committed to UT last week, is waiting for signatures from his parents in Nigeria to complete the paperwork. The two big men go with a trio of perimeter players — point guard Wes Washpun and wings Josh Richardson and Quinton Chievous — whom Martin has signed in less than eight full weeks on the job.
Pitt gets rematch
Miller won’t have to wait long to face his former team.
The Vols will host Pitt on Dec. 3 as part of the expanded SEC/Big East Challenge that was announced Thursday. All 12 SEC teams will participate this season for the first time in the event’s third year.
“This is a great opportunity to play a high-level opponent,” Martin said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge, and I think our fans will be excited about it.”
UT beat the Panthers on an officially neutral floor in Pittsburgh last December, and the win vaulted the Vols to a No. 7 ranking before they fizzled to a 12-15 finish, a first-round NCAA tournament exit and the firing of coach Bruce Pearl amid troubles with the NCAA.
No strangers to the Big East, UT beat Marquette in Nashville two seasons ago as part of the inaugural SEC/Big East Challenge and Villanova in last season’s NIT Season Tip-Off title game. The Vols lost at Connecticut in January and will host the national-champion Huskies this season.
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 ...