Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tyler Smith Headed to Tennessee

On Friday, the Tennessean confirmed that Hawkeye star Tyler Smith, from Giles County, Tennessee, was granted a release from Iowa. Here are some excerpts from that Tennessean article:

"Former Giles County High star Tyler Smith has been granted a release from Iowa and plans to transfer, possibly to Tennessee.

Iowa athletic department officials issued a statement today saying that Smith was transferring to be closer to his father, Billy, who’s battling cancer.

Tyler Smith, a 6-7 forward, has told several people close to him that he has a strong interest in Tennessee and hopes to win a hardship appeal from the NCAA that would allow him to play right away next season without having to sit out a year. The institution that Smith transfers to would have to file that appeal."

"Smith was a third-team, All-Big Ten selection last season for the Hawkeyes. He started 29 of 31 games, leading the team in rebounding (4.9) and steals (45) while ranking second in scoring (14.9) and assists (111). He also was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team and will have three years of eligibility remaining."

Tyler Smith was originally recruited by former Volunteer coach Buzz Peterson, but when Bruce Pearl was hired, the recruitment fell through. Coach Pearl asked Tyler and his father, Billy, for a meeting, and then he would release Tyler from his LOI. However, Billy Smith would not allow the meeting to happen, so Tyler had to sit out a year before starting his career at Iowa this past season.

Is there a risk in all of this? Absolutely, but let's look at it logically. Tyler Smith's father is seriously ill right now with cancer, and Tyler Smith has had two years of maturity under his belt. Coach Pearl has never been one to put his team in a bad place just to land a good player. From what I can tell, Coach Pearl and Tyler Smith are both dedicated to making this happen, and on the court, Tyler Smith will take Tennessee to the next level.

Before I go further, let me explain that most reports are coming out that Smith was granted a release and that Smith wants to come to Tennessee. From my sources, Coach Pearl will accept Smith into the program, and the only hurdle will be the medical hardship, which Smith will win. So, what am I saying? I'm saying Tyler Smith will be a Tennessee Volunteer in 2007.

Imagine the possibilities on the court. Of course, recruit Brian Williams, senior Jordan Howell, Josh Tabb, and J.P. Prince are going to have to work very, very hard to find quality minutes. Look at the potential depth:

1 - Ramar Smith
2 - Chris Lofton
3 - Jujuan Smith
4 - Tyler Smith
5 - Wayne Chism
Bench - Duke Crews
Bench - Ryan Childress
Bench - Cameron Tatum
Bench - Josh Tabb
Bench - J.P. Prince
Bench - Jordan Howell
Bench - Brian Williams

I know Coach Pearl wants to go 10 deep, but 11 or 12 deep? Is that even possible? I'll have to ask him how he plans on making 12 guys happy. One thing is for sure: Tyler Smith will start and he'll have a huge impact. He averaged 14.9 points per game, and if you look a little deeper, it wasn't just against the weaker opponents. Against NCAA tournament teams and SEC teams, Smith averaged 14 points. Combine that output with Tennessee's high octane offense, and Tennessee could lead the nation in scoring. A Final Four is a legitimate goal for this team. To wrap this up, here's a short video of exactly what Tyler Smith will bring to Rocky Top:

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