Half of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s 2011-12 basketball team will be grizzled veterans.
The other half will be just pups by comparison to the potential starting lineup of four seniors and a junior.
“I hope half the team knows what’s going on in practice next year,” coach John Shulman joked. “I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”
Shulman received national letters of intent on Wednesday from high school seniors Lance Stokes and Rico White which means at least five members of the six-man recruiting class will be freshmen.
A sixth high schooler is expected to join the program in a few weeks.
Jared Bryant, a 6-foot-7 center from Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati, has also committed to UTC. He is expected to sign when his admission process is complete in the next few weeks.
Bryant averaged about 12 points, 7.5 rebounds and two blocks per game last season.
“We’ve got four senior starters coming back, and you add Drazen [Zlovaric] who played at Georgia and sat out last year, plus Jahmal [Burroughs] and the timing was right to bring in a lot of young kids,” Shulman said. “The five that we’ve signed have a chance to be really good players, they want to be at UTC and they want to get better.”
Stokes and White join incoming freshmen Manny Ochenje, Xavian Rimmer and Trey Brown who signed in the fall period.
Stokes is a 6-6 forward who will likely spend most of his career playing small forward, but could find minutes at power forward as well. His father, Fred, played in the NFL for 10 years and won a Super Bowl ring while playing for the Redskins.
“He gets us back to being long and athletic and has really good size for the wing,” Shulman said. “He played on a high-level AAU team with [Duke signee] Austin Rivers so he’s used to competing and winning.”
White’s father, Tony White, also has an athletic background. The older White is a legend in University of Tennessee basketball history. His first son, Tony White Jr., played point guard at College of Charleston.
“All Rico has done is win,” Shulman said of the 6-3 guard from Bearden High School. “He’s different than his brother. He’s long, a lefty and has got some combo-guard skills and he can definitely play the 2 for us. He’s just a winner.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...