published Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Vols sign Murfreesboro guard

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee basketball program's 2013 recruiting class added another member on Wednesday, the first day of the late signing period.

Murfreesboro Blackman High School combo guard Darius Thompson became the Volunteers' fourth signee, joining five-star shooting guard Robert Hubbs, three-star forward A.J. Davis and three-star guard Travon Landry by signing and sending his national letter of intent.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Class AAA Mr. Basketball finalist averaged 16.4 points. 3.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists and led the Blaze to the state tournament this season.

"I've really enjoyed getting know Darius and his parents, and I'm excited that he's chosen to be a Vol," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said in the program's release. "Darius has a very high basketball IQ, and he's good at making individual plays and also facilitating the offense and getting others involved. At 6-foot-4, he's got good size for a point guard. He's a proven scorer who can shoot it with range, and I'm confident that he's going to be able to help us in a number of areas."

The first area likely will be point guard, where the Vols have had a void in Martin's two seasons. A one-time Vanderbilt commitment, Thompson reopened his recruitment in February, became a priority for Martin and his staff and despite some late interest from some other SEC schools, took an unofficial visit to Knoxville for Tennessee's win against Missouri in the regular-season finale. He committed to the Vols on March 23.

"Of all the head coaches who recruited me, I felt like I had the best relationship with Coach Martin," Thompson said in the release. "And it means a lot when the head coach develops that kind of relationship with you.

"On my visit, I got to hang out with the team. Being around the guys and seeing the great support they have at Tennessee, it blew me away. After that, I knew that was where I wanted to be. It's also good that I can stay close to home and keep the support system that I have intact."

Tennessee's number crunch for next season became more clouded on Tuesday when Rawane Ndiaye, a 6-foot-10 center from Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, verbally committed to the Vols. In 13 games this season, Ndiaye averaged 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He made his official visit to Tennessee over the weekend.

With Tennessee slated to bring in five players next season, the Vols currently stand two over the 13-scholarship limit, assuming forward Jarnell Stokes returns for his junior season. It's unclear how the situation will resolve itself, but Stokes' decision likely will be the first domino to fall. He has 10 days to decide before the NBA's deadline for underclassmen to declare, and though the expectation is Stokes, who like McRae requested an evaluation from the NBA's undergraduate advisory committee, will stay at Tennessee, he's yet to reach a final decision.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.

about Patrick Brown...

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 ...

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