Posted on: December 11, 2010 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 7:20 pm
Brandon Jennings was the No. 1 prospect in Scout.com's Class of 2008 rankings.
Samardo Samuels was No. 2.
B.J. Mullens was No. 3.
The rest of the top 10 consisted of Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Greg Monroe, Devin Ebanks, Ed Davis and Scotty Hopson. What you might notice from that list is that every one of those guys except Hopson -- who was ranked sixth, right between DeRozan and Monroe -- has already played for an NBA franchise, which is evidence that Hopson didn't spend his first two years at Tennessee living up to expectations.
He spent Saturday doing it, though.
The 6-foot-7 guard took 13 shots, made 10 and finished with a career-high 27 points to help the 11th-ranked Vols to an 83-76 upset of No. 3 Pittsburgh. No, the game wasn't played on campus at the Peterson Events Center. But it was still in the city (at the new downtown home of the Penguins), and that means it was the Panthers' first non-league loss in Pittsburgh since January 2005 -- otherwise known as back when Bruce Pearl was coaching Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and long before every conversation about UT revolved around the NCAA investigation into its men's basketball program.
Honestly, that was the only bad thing about the win for Tennessee.
The Vols were so dominant from start to finish -- they led by 10 points eight minutes in, by 12 points at halftime and by 21 points midway through the second half -- that ESPN's Sean McDonough and Jay Bilas had plenty of time to drift away from the action on the court and discuss Pearl's acknowledged violations, which is never a good thing for Pearl. But it was a small price to pay for an overwhelming and resume-building win that will launch the Vols into the top five of the Top 25 (and one) when the rankings are updated late Sunday, and Hopson is a big reason why all this is happening.
He's been consistently good in Tennessee's past three games -- wins over Villanova, Middle Tennessee and Pittsburgh -- and made 21 of 33 field goal attempts while averaging 21.3 points. More impressively, he's just looked dominant. No blending in. No disappearing. Hopson is finally playing like the guy who belonged in the top 10 of the Class of 2008. And if he keeps this up, he'll join all those classmates in the NBA soon enough.
Posted on: November 19, 2010 11:57 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 12:19 pm
The SEC is expected to soon announce that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl will be suspended for this season's first eight league games as punishment for admitted NCAA rules violations, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com on Friday.
An attempt to reach Pearl for comment wasn't immediately successful.
His first SEC game is now expected to be Feb. 8 at Kentucky.
Pearl's future has been uncertain since athletic director Mike Hamilton held a press conference in September to tell reporters that the school's men's basketball program is being investigated by the NCAA. Pearl has since confirmed a CBSSports.com report that detailed how he illegally hosted recruits at his house in 2008 and subsequently misled investigators about it. His contract has been voided, but he's expected to sign a new agreement with Tennessee in the coming months, if not weeks. The school will likely get a notice of allegations from the NCAA sometime in 2011.
The 24th-ranked Vols are off to a 3-0 start this season.
They play Virginia Commonwealth next Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 12:53 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 1:00 pm
Credit SI.com's Luke Winn with scoring Bruce Pearl's first public comments since CBSSports.com reported last week that the Tennessee coach provided "incorrect and misleading information" to the NCAA about illegally hosting three recruits at his home in the Fall of 2008.
Winn grabbed Pearl at a coaching clinic in Long Island on Sunday. The best quote -- and perhaps the one that shows Pearl doesn't necessarily believe he's in the clear with the NCAA just yet, at least in terms of his job security -- came when Winn asked Pearl whether he believes the worst is yet to come.
"I don't know," Pearl said. "We did what we felt like we needed to do, to take steps proactively to penalize ourselves. I think the penalties were unprecedented in some scope. But we made mistakes. We provided false and misleading information to the NCAA. I should be made an example of, and I am -- I'm embarrassed. But I hope that the things we did don't rise to the level of termination."
(Click this link to read the entire column.)
Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:34 pm
Click this link to read my Five for Friday column.
It's on the NCAA's investigation into Tennessee basketball.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 3:27 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 3:34 pm
Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl will have his pay docked $2 million over the life of his contract and not be allowed to recruit offcampus from Sept. 24, 2010 to Sept. 23, 2011, the school announced Friday. The development was in response to the NCAA sending an official letter of inquiry after a 17-month investigation into Pearl's program.
"I've made some serious mistakes," Pearl said at a Friday press conference. "For that I'm truly sorry."
School officials did not discuss what NCAA rule Pearl violated.
They only said he "misled" the NCAA during the course of the investigation.
(Click this link to see full list of self-imposed penalties at Tennessee.)
Posted on: September 10, 2010 3:00 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 3:04 pm
Tennessee received an official letter of inquiry from the NCAA on Friday detailing allegations against the school's men's basketball program. Athletic director Mike Hamilton and coach Bruce Pearl were scheduled to hold a press conference shortly after 3 p.m. ET to discuss the situation.
A source told CBSSports.com on Friday that NCAA assistant director of enforcement Kristen Matha visited Knoxville and questioned the basketball staff "months ago." At least one area of concern is alleged excessive contact between coaches and recruits, though a source said the staff was also questioned about unofficial visits and the recruitment of Kansas freshman Josh Selby -- a McDonald's All-American who was committed to the Vols before he opened his recruitment back up and ultimately signed with and enrolled at KU.
CBSSports.com reported last month that Selby is facing questions about his amateur status from the NCAA.
He has not yet been cleared for freshman eligibility.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 10:32 am
Edited on: September 10, 2010 11:17 am
An NCAA official has spoken with Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and assistant Tony Jones about allegations of excessive contact with recruits, Volquest.com reported early Friday. CBSSports.com has confirmed the report and been told additional staff members have also been questioned about everything from improper phone calls to unofficial visits to the recruitiment of McDonald's All-American Josh Selby.
Selby committed to UT in September 2008, then decommitted in July 2009. He eventually enrolled at Kansas. CBSSports.com reported last month that the NCAA hasn't yet cleared Selby for freshman eligibility because of questions about his amateur status. A source on Friday told CBSSports.com that Selby's case remains unresolved.
NCAA assistant director of enforcement Kristen Matha visited Knoxville and questioned the basketball staff "months ago," a source told CBSSports.com. A separate source described the interviews as preliminary but did not discount the severity that could come from them given that excessive contact is what cost Kelvin Sampson the Indiana job, and it was a big part of the NCAA's investigation at Connecticut that led to the resignations of two assistants.
"We have not received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA," UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton told the Associated Press. "Upon receipt of such a letter, we would release it publicly."
The NCAA has also interviewed current and former UT football coaches and recruits as part of a separate investigation into possible allegations under former coach Lane Kiffin. The university has not received a formal letter of inquiry from the NCAA about that investigation either, though athletic director Mike Hamilton has said he expects one.
Posted on: January 9, 2010 9:07 am
I'm headed to Knoxville today in advance of Sunday's showdown between No.1 Kansas and No. 16 Tennessee. It'll be the Vols' second game since four players were arrested on guns and drug charges, the first since Bruce Pearl dismissed one of those players, Tyler Smith, from the team on Friday.
Smith was averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
On the surface, the Vols will miss him.
But sources around the program have indicated in recent days that Smith hasn't been the best leader (shocker, right?) or hardest worker over the past year or so, and that it's possible the Vols could, in Smith's absence, get back to playing with the same type of energy they displayed in Pearl's first three years at Tennessee. The problem, of course, is that with Smith (dismissed) and Brian Williams (suspended) out of the lineup, UT is really light up front, which makes the preseason loss of Emmanuel Negedu (heart condition) much more damaging than it seemed when it happened.
Still, Tennessee fans seem OK with the decision to remove Smith. As I type, a poll on the Knoxville News-Sentinel site shows that 91 percent of voters believe dismissing Smith was "fair." Granted, it's probably unfair -- or at the very least unwise -- to read too much into that. But the poll does hint at how much Smith's reputation had declined within the UT community, or perhaps it's simply more of a reflection of the fact that the senior forward was enduring the worst season of his career.
Either way, it's KU vs. UT on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
And it should be noted that Pearl has managed upsets like this before.
In January 2006, the Vols beat an undefeated (and eventual national-title-winning) Florida team that would've, if not for the loss, subsequently moved to No. 1 in the AP poll. In February 2007, they beat a fourth-ranked Florida team that also went on to win the national title. And in February 2008, UT went to Memphis and dealt the top-ranked Tigers, who ultimately played for the national title, their first loss.
In each of those games, the Vols were seemingly out-manned.
But they won anyway.
So it'll be interesting to see if they can do it again.