University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach Lamont Paris recently told the Times Free Press he was "probably more likely to add" another player this offseason.
"The potential for us to add to this team is definitely still out there," Paris said at the time.
That potential was fulfilled Friday night with the addition of transfer Mark Tikhonenko, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward from Russia who played some high school basketball in the United States.
Tikhonenko's father Valeri won an Olympic gold medal in basketball with the Soviet Union in the 1988 Seoul Games and also helped the country win three silver medals in world championship tournaments. He was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1986 NBA draft, though he never played in the league, competing as a pro for European clubs and later coaching Russian pro teams.
His son played the 2019-20 college basketball season at Sam Houston State and averaged 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds while making 49% of his 3-point attempts for the Bearkats. Prior to that, Tikhonenko played two seasons at North Texas, redshirting in 2017-18 and then averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in eight games the following season before getting injured.
How soon he'll be on court for the Mocs is not known. Generally, NCAA basketball players who transfer from one Division I program to another must sit out the first season with their new team, although waivers are sometimes granted. This past season, UTC forward Stefan Kenic was made eligible by the NCAA in late November after transferring from Cleveland (Ohio) State last summer.
If Tikhonenko is available in 2020-21, it would give the Mocs two players listed at 6-10, with the other Jaden Frazier, a 210-pounder who redshirted as a freshman this past season. Kenic is listed at 6-9, 230.
The Mocs now have 12 scholarship players after another busy offseason where roster management is concerned, despite the limitations of the coronavirus pandemic.
UTC's Matt Ryan and Jonathan Scott were in their final college seasons in 2019-20, and Justin Brown, Maurice Commander and Rod Johnson exited via transfers, but Paris has been busy filling the vacancies, with Tikhonenko the Mocs' third addition, following guard Darius Banks, who transferred from James Madison University, and forward KC Hankton, who transferred from Saint Louis University.
In addition, returning guard A.J. Caldwell, a former walk-on, will be on scholarship next season after a solid redshirt sophomore campaign in 2019-20.