Mocs Notebook: Men's basketball, women's tennis, football programs add new players

Mocs Notebook: Men's basketball, women's tennis, football programs add new players

May 17th, 2018 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball program has signed Rod Johnson.

The Mocs announced the addition Wednesday.

The 6-foot-7 forward has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He started his collegiate career at Northern Michigan, a Division II program that recruited him as a guard. He transferred to Highland (Kan.) Community College for his sophomore season, averaging 5.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while transitioning to forward.

UTC coach Lamont Paris believes versatility will help the Mocs during the 2018-19 season, their second with Paris in charge.

"Rod has the potential to affect the game in a lot of ways," Paris said. "He can play multiple positions defend multiple positions, bringing more maturity to the team as well. He can handle the ball and pass on the perimeter.

"In high school, he played strictly on the perimeter and was an accomplished shooter. In his junior college days, he was the opposite of that playing inside. He's got good length. I like having a number of guys who are taller than average, can pass and dribble and play multiple positions. It makes you harder to guard. His versatility is a big part of what attracted us to him."

As a senior at Sun Prairie High School in Wisconsin, Johnson averaged 12.3 points per game and shot 39 percent from 3-point range. Sun Prairie is near Madison and the University of Wisconsin, where Paris was an assistant before coming to Chattanooga.

"We believe he can develop into a reliable shooter; he's shown that before in his career," Paris said. "He comes from an incredible family. That's not unlike any of the other guys, but I have a previous relationship with this family ... They're just amazing people."

Johnson becomes the 10th player expected to make his UTC debut next season. Sophomore guard David Jean-Baptiste and freshman forward Duane Moss are the only players returning from last season with any level of experience, although Moss had to take a medical redshirt after getting injured early.

'All-around' addition

The UTC women's tennis program announced the addition of Polina Goloputova to the roster for next season. She comes from Astana, Kazakhstan.

"Polina has an all-around tennis game that will be very useful to us," UTC coach Chad Camper said in a release. "She has had a great junior career, and I look forward to her game improving and really helping us take the program to a new level. The first time I saw her on video, I knew that we needed to make her a Moc."

Goloputova was the No. 6 player in Kazakhstan in the under-18 division. She reached the national finals in doubles last year and won multiple junior tournaments during her career.

She joins Lilly Holmes as newcomers to the program for next season.

Mocs football updates

Minnesota wide receiver Mark Williams posted on Twitter that he is transferring to UTC. The 6-foot, 190-pound redshirt sophomore will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

A former three-star prospect at Jackson High School in Gainesville, Ala., Williams initially chose the Golden Gophers over offers from South Alabama, Jacksonville State, Alabama State, Bethune-Cookman, Eastern Kentucky and Grambling State. He was signed as a dual-threat quarterback but trained as a defensive back before making the move to receiver. He played in nine games, catching two passes for 43 yards against Michigan State.

Also, Cooper Bell, a high school quarterback from Georgetown, Texas, announced on Twitter his intentions to join the UTC football program as a preferred walk-on.

The 6-foot-4 Bell completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,977 yards and 38 touchdowns to just one interception in 2017, earning All-District 19-5A honors as a senior. He also scored 11 touchdowns (10 rushing, one receiving).

He chose the Mocs over offers from Division II programs Angelo State, Midwestern State and Texas-Permian Basin.

The Mocs also lost a player Wednesday, when redshirt freshman Zach Feaster announced his intentions to transfer to Auburn-Montgomery and pursue a baseball career.

He was a two-time all-state defensive back at Beauregard High School in Opelika, Ala., totaling 134 tackles and four interceptions as a senior while helping the Hornets to a 13-1 finish and a state championship. He was a member of UTC's scout team in 2017.

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.