Coming off one of the worst seasons in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Division I men's basketball history, coach Lamont Paris saw the immediate need to get better — and quickly.
With his recruiting class, he feels he's done just that.
Paris announced Friday the signings of forwards Kevin Easley and Keigan Kerby. They join incoming freshman guards Maurice Commander and Donovann Toatley, Fairfield junior transfer guard Jerry Johnson and Arizona State sophomore forward transfer Ramon Vila as new pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Vila won't be available until after the first semester is over.
"I'm really excited about where we are from a roster standpoint in general," Paris said in a news release. "The entire team really excites me. This group of newcomers — I can't wait to get started seeing what these guys are capable of and coaching these guys.
"I think we've filled voids and improved our overall talent and depth. We're doing it with the type of guys I enjoy coaching. All of these guys are high-level character (young men) with who they are as students, who they are as people and who they are as basketball players.
"Genuinely excited and ready to get going. This is probably as excited I've ever been to get the next season started as soon after the last one ended."
The 6-foot-6 Easley was ranked as the No. 9 player in the state of Indiana and the 71st-best small forward in the country, according to 247Sports.com. He initially committed to former UTC coach Will Wade at Virginia Commonwealth but backed off after Wade left for LSU. He had more than a dozen offers, including from Butler, Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue.
He averaged 17.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game while leading Lawrence North High School to an 18-7 record. The Wildcats were 73-29 in his four seasons.
"Kevin is a very accomplished player," Paris said. "He's played in a tremendous league going against high-level competition on a regular basis. He has the ability to affect the game in so many different ways — from rebounding to handling the ball some, passing, scoring on the perimeter and around the basket — and he has really good feel and passion for the game of basketball. It means a lot to him."
The 6-7 Kerby played at the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. He is ranked as the No. 26 player in Massachusetts and No. 74 in New England, according to the New England Recruiting Report, and was named most valuable player after leading Brooks to a third straight New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class B championship.
"Keigan is a versatile forward with good size," Paris said. "His best attribute right now is his ability to shoot the ball with range, but he is multifaceted as a basketball player. I think he will be able to put the ball on the floor as he develops. He has a tremendous feel for the game. I think he'll develop into a really good passer and facilitator at the forward spot. His basketball instincts are high-level."
The Mocs also will have 6-11 forward Justin Brown and 6-6 forward Duane Moss, both of whom redshirted last season due to injury. Moss did play in seven games, averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds while making eight of his 14 3-point attempts.
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