Lady Mocs signees wait for new coach

Lady Mocs signees wait for new coach

May 6th, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - College

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Moses Johnson was in the gym shooting Saturday when she received a phone call asking how she was handling the uncertainty surrounding the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball program.

Johnson, a second-team Georgia Class A all-state forward from Greenforest Christian Academy, near Atlanta, is one of six Lady Mocs signees. They, like UTC's returning players, have been in limbo for a month, since longtime coach Wes Moore left UTC to be the head coach at North Carolina State.

"I was really looking forward to playing for Coach Moore," Johnson told the Times Free Press. "I cried when he told me he was leaving. ... I love the school and I love the city, but he was one of the main reasons why I did sign with UTC.

"I'm just waiting to meet the new coach."

UTC, which has men's and women's basketball coach openings, could have both filled by the end of this week.

Johnson remains excited about UTC, but that excitement is guarded because not knowing who the coach will be is a major unknown.

Guard Chelsey Shumpert made the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal's all-state first team, as did fellow guard and signee Whitney Hartlage. While Hartlage said she's "still with UTC all the way," Shumpert said she's more uncertain about her future.

"I've talked to my dad and coach about it a little bit and we're trying figure things out," said Shumpert, a 5-foot-3 senior at Paducah Tilighman High School that began playing on the varsity squad as a seventh grader. "I haven't really made a decision on if I'm staying or leaving, though I don't think we can do that anyway.

"I haven't come to my final conclusion about what I'm going to do yet."

A player that doesn't attend the designated institution after signing a national letter of intent can lose two years of eligibility.

The Lady Mocs, who tied a school record with 29 wins in Moore's final season, only lost two seniors: shooting guard Kayla Christopher and wing Kylie Lambert. Christopher finished her career third all-time in the Southern Conference with 229 3-pointers.

Moore spoke very highly of his final signing class and he said his guards from Kentucky (Shumpert and Hartlage) could help fill the outside-shooting void left by Christopher's graduation.

"The cupboard is going to be full," Moore said prior to leaving UTC. "You've got a very strong nucleus of players coming back and I really think the freshman class, we've got one for every position, is very talented."

Freshman orientation begins in June and the newcomers will report to campus in August.

"It's very weird," Shumpert said of not having a coach right now. "We're hoping for the best, that somebody comes in and does a good job with it."

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.