KNOXVILLE - Donnie Tyndall's first staff as Tennessee's basketball coach is coming together just ahead of a weekend of recruiting.
The Volunteers' new coach confirmed that his entire staff from Southern Mississippi would join him in Knoxville and confirmed that Ole Miss assistant coach Al Pinkins would join the staff.
In an interview with the Times Free Press in his office late Thursday morning, Tyndall, hired by Tennessee on Tuesday to replace the departed Cuonzo Martin, said the hire of Pinkins "should be official, hopefully, tomorrow."
Chris Shumate and Adam Howard, two of Tyndall's bench assistants with the Golden Eagles, will remain as assistant coaches. Jareem Dowling, a bench coach at Southern Miss, will be in a player development role. Justin Phelps will maintain his role as Tyndall's director of basketball operations.
Pinkins joined Andy Kennedy's staff with the Rebels in 2011 after eight seasons at Middle Tennessee State. Tyndall was also an assistant with the Blue Raiders from 2002-06. The link between Pinkins and Tyndall is Kermit Davis, MTSU's coach since 2002.
The 28-year-old Howard, who played at Western Kentucky under Darrin Horn, spent three seasons at Morehead State under Tyndall and followed him to Southern Miss.
Shumate, 32, joined Tyndall's staff at Southern Miss last season after spending six seasons at Cincinnati under Mick Cronin. He played for Cronin at Murray State before playing two years in the NBA Development League. He worked in an operations role before moving to a student-athlete development role and on to the bench.
Dowling spent a season at Morehead State with Tyndall and followed him to Southern Miss. He coached at Slippery Rock prior to joining Tyndall with the Eagles. Originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dowling coached his country's Under-17 team in a couple of international competitions.
Phelps joined Tyndall at Southern Miss after a stint at South Carolina, and he also worked at Kent State. In 2010, he founded and directed the All-American Junior College Showcase in Las Vegas, an event attended by more than 200 Division I coaching staffs.
Todd Moyer also would join Tennessee from Southern Miss as the strength and conditioning coach.
Tennessee signees Jordan Cornish and Larry Austin requested and were granted releases from their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, and as of now forwards C.J. Turman and Phil Cofer remain a part of the class.
"We're hopeful they decide not to want the release," Tyndall said. "I want to get in front of them and visit with them. C.J. has been on break, spring break, so that hasn't worked out. Phil, I was hoping to be there today, but I don't know that that's gonna happen.
"Before I do release those two guys, I want to get in front of them and visit with their families. I'm hopeful to do that today, tomorrow, or certainly in the next couple of days."
With at least four available scholarships for next season, Tyndall and his staff are hoping to make some late additions to the program.
The Vols are scheduled to host Kevin Punter, out of State Fair Community College in Missouri, on an official visit to campus this weekend. Punter verbally committed to Missouri earlier this month. The Tigers are still looking for a coach after Frank Haith left for Tulsa.
As for Tyndall's five-man signing class at Southern Miss, Tennessee's new coach said he would not try to bring them to Tennessee.
Tennessee's assistants will be on the road at various AAU events this weekend, and the Vols are hoping to add a junior college prospect or a transfer. One name to watch is Purdue guard Ronnie Johnson. He would have to sit out a season unless he's granted a waiver from the NCAA.
Tyndall also said the door isn't closed on Quinton Chievous returning to Tennessee. The redshirt sophomore played very minimally under Martin, and had planned to graduate early and transfer.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.