KNOXVILLE — Holly Warlick's first signing class as Tennessee women's basketball head coach is heavy on star power.
Two of the nation's top eight players officially inked with the Lady Volunteers Wednesday as the early signing period began.
Mercedes Russell, a 6-foot-6 post player from Springfield (Ore.) High School, is the No. 1 overall player in ESPN's HoopGurlz recruiting rankings. When she verbally committed to the Lady Vols two weeks ago, she became the program's most touted prospect since Candace Parker in 2004. Russell averaged 26 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and six blocked shots per game as a junior as her high school team won its second straight state title.
Warlick and the Lady Vols went to Maryland to nab Jannah Tucker, the's nation No. 8 player and 6-foot guard who averaged 30 points per game last season for her New Town High School team.
Both players have experience playing with Team USA. Each signee has a gold medal from the FIBA Americas under-16 championship in 2011. Russell won a second gold medal at the under-17 world championships in August, and Tucker played up a year, played with Tennessee freshman point guard Bashaara Graves and won a gold with the under-18 team at the FIBA Americas championship.
Jordan Reynolds, a 5-foot-11 guard from Portland Central Catholic in Oregon who's the nation's 10th-rated overall player, is expected to sign her letter of intent on Friday.
The Tennessee men's basketball team is expected to receive letters of intent from its three committed players this afternoon.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...