KNOXVILLE - Devon Baulkman probably let out a fairly loud sigh of relief sometime Tuesday morning.
That's when Tennessee announced the Gulf Coast State College basketball guard had signed scholarship papers with the Volunteers.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Georgia native originally signed with Southern Mississippi and coach Donnie Tyndall, who took the Tennessee job four weeks ago, and endured some uncertainty regarding his future to reunite with the coach who signed him.
"It was pretty tough, kind of hard for me, because I didn't know what was going on or where I was going to be playing at or where I was going to end up at," Baulkman told the Times Free Press via phone Tuesday. "It was so hard for me, the first time I've ever been through that situation. But I talked to my family, my coach and my godfather. It all worked out pretty well."
The hardest part of it, Baulkman said, was Tyndall's departure.
"I was hurt, because I really wanted to be coached by him," he admitted. "I was disappointed. I didn't know what to do. It all worked out."
At the junior college in Panama City, Fla., Baulkman averaged 15.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game this past season despite a shoulder injury, and he set a Gulf Coast State record by scoring 48 points in a game in February. At Bainbridge High School near the Florida state line west of Valdosta, Baulkman averaged 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as a senior in 2011.
"Devon is another versatile, long, athletic guy that fits our system really well," Tyndall said in Tennessee's release. "He can play all three perimeter positions, and that versatility will allow him to contribute immediately to our team."
Southern Miss hired former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler to replace Tyndall, who took the Golden Eagles to 56 wins in his two seasons in Hattiesburg.
"I thought about staying at Southern Miss, but the new coaching staff and me had to build a relationship," Baulkman said. "I thought that would take time. I just wasn't sure about going through all that. My mom, that was going to be kind of hard for her, because she didn't know the coach, who he is, is he going to play me.
"It was kind of hard for me. I talked about it, prayed about it and thought about it, and then I asked for my release. Then I made my decision to go to Tennessee."
Baulkman remained close to Vols assistant Chris Shumate, who recruited him to Southern Miss, but he admitted he didn't expect to end up at Tennessee when Tyndall first left.
"It was a shocking moment that it came up like this so quick, but he just told me I could come in there and a big impact and help them out," Baulkman said. "I'm a very good fit for that style. I can shoot the ball very well, handle it, make plays. I'm very athletic; I can defend very well. But whatever Coach wants me to do, I can do that for him."
Baulkman is the fourth player to sign with the Vols since Tyndall replaced Cuonzo Martin, and like fellow junior college guard Kevin Punter, he has two years of eligibility remaining. Guard Detrick Mostella and forward Jabari McGhee, both prep school players, will be freshmen next season.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com.