New Mocs basketball signee could help in a variety of ways

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ UTC head coach Lamont Paris instructs the Mocs during a timeout. The University of Tennessee Mocs hosted the Wofford Terriers in Southern Conference basketball at McKenzie Arena on January 14, 2020.

Over the weekend, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball program picked up a commitment from 6-foot-11 big Avery Diggs, who comes to Chattanooga with one year of eligibility remaining after playing at the University of Central Florida the past two seasons.

Last week, head coach Lamont Paris talked about the need to make the team better this offseason. One of the things we highlighted was the need to bring in an experienced big that could fill the roster vacancy left by Stefan Kenic, who will begin his professional career overseas next season.

We spent some time watching some of his film from UCF, as well as looking at his time at both Division I USC Upstate and Southwest Mississippi Junior College to determine what it looks like the Mocs are getting in their newest player:

* Diggs has never averaged more than 21 minutes per game in four seasons of college, and with the changing landscape of college basketball – where opposing offenses employ pick-and-rolls to put bigs in bad matchups - it's hard for a player Diggs' size to garner a ton of playing time. At his size, he will be able to perform well at certain times, most likely against teams that also have a big. If the Mocs can get a combined 20-25 minutes from Diggs and senior Josh Ayeni, it's a win.

* While Diggs isn't as skilled as Kenic offensively, that doesn't mean he's not capable of scoring in a variety of ways. He has a nice touch around the basket (56% from the field in his career) and asserts his position in the paint, demanding the ball (the Mocs did a good job of utilizing Ramon Vila in a similar role in 2019-20). He also has shown he can step out on the perimeter and hit the occasional 3-pointer, knocking down 36% during his lone year in junior college.

* Let's not kid ourselves, though. The Mocs are probably set with their primary rotation of guards Malachi Smith (provided he takes his name out of draft consideration), David Jean-Baptiste, Darius Banks, K.C. Hankton, A.J. Caldwell and Jamaal Walker. Some combination of that six will likely finish a lot of games. Ayeni provided a big body to start the game, and Diggs will be another piece to that puzzle. He has shown to be a serviceable rebounder and did block 26 shots in junior college. If he can become some sort of rim-protecting presence for the Mocs, that will be his greatest contribution to this team.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.