KNOXVILLE — Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick is excited for the addition of the program's first-ever player from Chattanooga, and it's not hard to understand why.
Jazmine Massengill, who played at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, is headed to Knoxville from the Scenic City as ESPN's No. 25 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class, and she is joining the Lady Vols at a critical time.
Tennessee loses its top two scorers from this past season's 25-8 team that lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Massengill is part of a four-player freshman class, all ranked in ESPN's top 50, that will help replace that production and add needed depth to the roster.
"Love her energy, just love her personality," Warlick said of Massengill at this month's Big Orange Caravan stop in Chattanooga. "I love that she loves basketball. She's really kind of a local kid for us. Wanted to come to Tennessee."
The signing class — which also includes Zarielle "Zay" Green, Amira "Mimi" Collins and Rae Burrell — is one reason why Warlick is striking an optimistic tone this offseason after a disappointing home-court loss to Oregon State in the second round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. That defeat brought scrutiny on Warlick, who is expected to receive a contract extension as she enters the final year of her current deal.
"I think at times we needed numbers, bodies, and us bringing in five new people is going to help tremendously," Warlick said.
The fifth addition is Washington State graduate transfer Louise Brown, a 6-foot-3 forward who Warlick believes can help Tennessee offensively and add some veteran leadership to a roster with eight freshmen or sophomores.
"I don't worry about the inexperience," Warlick said. "I love the depth and I love the competition. I say just watching us work out in the spring, if we continue that growth we're going to be absolutely fine. We've got five new kids in here that are hungry, eager to get going, want to represent our program."
Massengill, a 6-foot guard, played in the McDonald's All-American game in Atlanta in March along with Green and Collins. She also received an invitation to Team USA's under-18 team tryouts this past weekend in Colorado, which should continue her development before she makes the trek from up Interstate 75 to join her home state's storied college program.
"It was so mutual," Warlick said of Massengill's decision to sign with the Lady Vols. "And I will say that when she said she was coming, I was thrilled. She's a super kid, class kid, and is going to represent our program very, very well."
Contact David Cobb at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.
Lady Vols' 2018 signing class
Zarielle "Zay" Green | 6-0 guard | Duncanville, Texas | ESPN's No. 10 player in 2018 class
Jazmine Massengill | 6-0 guard | Chattanooga | ESPN's No. 25 player in 2018 class
Rae Burrell | 6-1 wing | Henderson, Nevada | ESPN's No. 43 player in 2018 class
Amira "Mimi" Collins | 6-3 forward | Waldorf, Maryland | ESPN's No. 49 player in 2018 class
Louise Brown | 6-3 forward | Washington State University graduate transfer | 6.4 points per game in 2017-18