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Friday, May 6, 2011
Tobias Harris another loss for Tennessee

By Diamond Leung

Tobias Harris really seemed to enjoy his time at Tennessee. In recent weeks, he was caught on camera playing intramural softball, doing community service, and singing "Rocky Top." The freshman forward who this season led the team in rebounding and scored 15.3 points per game had indicated he would feel comfortable playing for new coach Cuonzo Martin.

The decision by Harris to remain in the NBA draft shouldn't come as a surprise given his talent, but it was nonetheless a blow to what Martin is trying to get started.

Martin loses Harris, and quite possibly will also lose leading scorer Scotty Hopson to the NBA draft. He has already lost the recruiting class Bruce Pearl put together with Chris Jones and Kevin Ware apparently headed elsewhere.

Harris, who is expected to be a first-round draft pick, has plenty of upside as a versatile forward. Most recently, he had been training with George Gervin and John Lucas in preparation for the draft. Martin will miss out on his production.

"First of all, Tobias is a wonderful young man," Martin said in a statement. "He had a great freshman season, but more importantly he also conducts himself in all the right ways off the court. There's no doubt he'll be successful.

"I wish him well. I absolutely loved working with him, over the past several weeks.

"He'll always be a Tennessee Volunteer, and just like every other former player, we're always here for him. He’s part of the family."

Martin had similar words at last week's team banquet in addressing the seniors that had played for Pearl as he bid them farewell. It was a potentially awkward moment that he pulled off while also paying tribute to Pearl's achievements.

Losing Harris was just another reminder that Martin will be building his own program while the last vestiges of Pearl's program gradually disappear.