David Jean-Baptiste saw no need to wait to make a college decision.
The 6-foot-1 combo guard from Miami, Fla., became the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team's first commitment for the 2016-17 season, pledging to the Mocs on Wednesday.
Jean-Baptiste plays for Miami Norland Senior High School, which this year won its fourth consecutive Florida Class 6A state championship despite losing 10 players from the previous season — six to graduation and four others who transferred.
Playing alongside five-star center Dewan Huell, Jean-Baptiste averaged 11.5 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game this past season and was the Vikings' top 3-point shooting threat. He had a 37 percent success rate from behind the arc, where he made 55 3-pointers, with four games in which he had four 3-pointers and another in which he hit five.
The Mocs' hire in April of former University of Florida assistant Matt McCall to lead the program was key to Jean-Baptiste's decision.
"Coach McCall is a really good coach," Jean-Baptiste said Thursday. "He just came from a really good program, and instead of wasting time, I made my decision because I love Coach McCall."
His addition will fill a position of need. The Mocs lose five seniors after the 2015-16 season, including three guards: Eric Robertson, who made 65 3-pointers and led the Southern Conference at a 47 percent clip this past season; walk-on Alex Bran; and UT-Martin transfer Dee Oldham, who will be eligible after fall semester.
"I'm going to come in and bring toughness," Jean-Baptiste said. "I want to be that man to bring toughness and energy. Playing at Norland, I've learned discipline and how to listen and follow directions. Sometimes you want to do your own thing on the court, but it's important to follow directions.
"Playing at Norland, every game we play a team is coming with all they've got. We've been the top team down here, and it's tough, but we dig deep and have found a way to win."
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