Tennessee recruits stand by Bruce Pearl

September, 13, 2010
9/13/10
1:19
PM ET
There will be a host of consequences from Tennessee's Friday revelations. The NCAA will weigh in. The Volunteers will, at some point, have to do even more damage control. There will be other news conferences.

In the meantime, the immediate consequence of Tennessee's self-imposed penalties will be Bruce Pearl's sudden inability to recruit away from Knoxville, Tenn., for 12 months. That ban, mixed with the sudden and overwhelming worry about phone call quantity, will make for a very difficult recruiting situation at a time when Pearl was establishing -- whether legally or not -- one of the most consistent talent-mining operations in all of college basketball.

There is also the worry about incoming recruits. Would they stick around? Or would they see any impending NCAA crackdown as a reason to re-open their recruitment and get out of dodge?

Here's where the good news part starts: It appears those recruits are going to stay. Two 2011 commits have, um, committed again. Kevin Ware and Chris Jones told the Knoxville News-Sentinel they're staying at Tennessee, and they did so in no uncertain terms:
"Of course I am [staying],'' said guard Kevin Ware of Rockdale County High in Conyers, Ga., who arrived in Knoxville for his official visit Friday, hours after UT announced multiple self-imposed penalties to the men's basketball program after receiving a letter of inquiry from the NCAA. "I know what kind of person Coach Pearl is, and Tennessee is a family to me -- it's not just basketball.''

"I'm still with Tennessee, and it doesn't affect me in any way,'' Jones said. "My relationship with the coaching staff is strong.''

Ware and Jones would be important to Pearl's 2011 class even if they weren't his only recruits, as both are ranked in the ESPNU 100. Their re-commitment, as it were, is a major win for Pearl, as he looks to assure other recruits that their potential UT decisions are going to come back to haunt them. See? These guys are already committed! Nothing to see here, fellas! Etc.

Pearl will have to do that without the ability to make house calls. He'll also have to hope the timing of his announcement doesn't scare away Adonis Thomas, who was on campus for an official visit this weekend. This is as good a start to that process as most Vol fans could probably have imagined. At least for now.

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