KNOXVILLE — The offseason numbers game for the Tennessee men's basketball program edged closer to a solution Saturday.
The Volunteers announced that center Yemi Makanjuola has been granted a release to transfer to another program after two seasons at Tennessee.
The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Nigerian's exit means the Vols are only one player over the 13-scholarship limit for next season.
"Yemi and I came to a mutual agreement that it would be in his best interest for him to get a fresh start with a new program," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said in the program's release. "Yemi is leaving Tennessee on good terms. He's respected by his teammates and coaches, we all appreciate the work he's put in during his time here and I'm confident that he'll be successful."
Makanjuola averaged 2.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game as a freshman and 1.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 7.8 minutes per game this past season. A raw player offensively, he was a physical defender and tough rebounder and held the respect of his teammates. He played only three minutes in the season's final five games, however.
"It's been a great privilege to be a part of the Volunteer family for the past two years," Makanjuola said. "I want to thank the Tennessee fans for all the support they've shown me, and I hope they'll continue to show my teammates here great support in the future. Tennessee is going to have a great team next year, and that will be good for the fans to see.
"But the best thing for me right now is to continue to pursue my dream with another school. I'll never forget the memories from my time at Tennessee, but I'm also excited about what's next for me. Go Vols!"
Two days after verbally committing, junior college center Rawane "Pops" Ndiaye signed Thursday with the Vols. The 6-foot-10, 270-pounder averaged 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game this season for Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, but he played in just 13 games due to a foot injury. Ndiaye was born in New York City and lived with his parents in Senegal before returning to the United States.
After two seasons at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Ndiaye signed with Western Carolina out of Body of Christ Academy in Raleigh, N.C., but he never enrolled and landed at Indian Hills.
"Pops will bring a level of physicality and toughness to our frontcourt," Martin said. "He was limited this season with the foot injury. He's done a good job of improving his frame, dropping 80 pounds in the last two years. He's going to continue to develop, get even stronger and really add to our post depth."
Ndiaye is Tennessee's fifth 2013 signee, joining five-star guard Robert Hubbs, Murfreesboro guard Darius Thompson and forward A.J. Davis and Travon Landry, two three-star prospects.
If forward Jarnell Stokes, who has one more week to make his decision about the NBA, elects to return to Tennessee for his junior season, the Vols would have 14 players for 13 spots since only four players -- departing seniors Skylar McBee, Kenny Hall and Dwight Miller and the transferring Makanjuola -- left the roster.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him 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 ...