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The See-Saw Ride Continues For UT Basketball

The past 13 months have been a see-saw ride for Tennessee basketball fans.  On January 1st, 2010 four Volunteers had their names splashed across television tickers and newspaper headlines when they were arrested with guns and pot in their car.  Bruce Pearl dismissed top scorer Tyler Smith and suspended the other three players.  But rather than collapse, UT’s team somehow came together and reached the school’s first-ever Elite Eight.

In September of 2010, with the world still looking rosy, Tennessee announced that Bruce Pearl had lied to NCAA investigators during a lengthy investigation of his program.  National media members called for Pearl’s head.  The SEC handed down an 8-game suspension.  But surprisingly Pearl’s team showed no ill effects.  UT knocked off Top 10 foes Villanova and Pittsburgh on the road and climbed all the way to #1 in the RPI rankings.

And then came a string of upset losses — five of them to teams ranked outside the RPI top 50 — that left everyone in Knoxville scratching their heads.  The NCAA’s letter of allegations was expected to arrive in December but that date came and went.  UT officials have yet to receive an official list of charges against Pearl.

Once again, however, things seemed to be turning around.  The Vols have now won three of their last four games and are just one game back in the SEC East.  Their only loss in that span was a hard-fought loss at Connecticut.  No shame in that.

But here’s the latest see-saw drop: UT signee Chris Jones has been dismissed from Oak Ridge Military Academy in North Carolina and no one is saying why.  Jones is a four-star point guard according to Rivals.com, the 10th best player at his position in the country.

“Chris has made major strides with us, not just as a basketball player but as a student-athlete,” Jones’ coach Stan Kowalewski told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “I’m not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the dismissal, but it’s not basketball related.”  The dismissal is not believed to be academic related, either.

Pearl said that he was aware of the dismissal but would make no other comment.  Kowalewski said, “We’ll make every effort to help with Chris’ transfer to another school.”

Tennessee has just one other signee in the class of 2011.  Depending on the NCAA’s ruling against Pearl, the Vol program could go from the penthouse to the outhouse quickly.

If Pearl is given a suspension of a year (or more), it’s possible that a number of current Vols might transfer or leave school early for some form of professional ball (Scotty Hopson, Tobias Harris).  Now throw in the up-in-the-air status of Jones and the Tennessee roster looks anything but stable moving forward. 

Even if Jones is accepted into another high school and does graduate on time with all of his coursework in order, will someone who was thrown out of high school survive long-term in college?

The see-saw ride continues for Vol fans.

 


1 comments
thomas
thomas

Old news. Beating a dead horse John Pennington.Get over it.

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