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Tennessee Basketball: Cuonzo Martin Releases Freshman for 3-Star Recruit

KNOXVILLE, TN - JANUARY 7: Erving Walker #11 of the Florida Gators loses the ball in the lane while being defended by Wes Washpun #4 and Jordan McRae #52 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on January 7, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee defeated Florida 67-56. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Mark AlewineContributor IOctober 14, 2016

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin made good on his warning to his team in January.  

In order to make room for recently committed Armani Moore (Kennesaw, GA), Martin released freshman guard Wes Washpun in order to be in compliance with the NCAA’s limit of 13 scholarship players. Washpun finished the year with just 16 points in ten games, averaging just over 28 percent from the field. 

Coach Martin warned his team of drastic changes if the team did not play to his standards after the Vols' 18-point loss at Vanderbilt on January 24, and claimed there were players “knocking on the door” to be a part of the Tennessee program. He reinforced this message again by benching leading scorer Trae Golden in the home win over Georgia, and later by suspending junior Kenny Hall for the final nine games of the season for conduct detrimental to the team. (Hall was reinstated March 26.) 

Washpun’s release was Coach Martin’s strongest move yet to transform the team, but it makes room to address the Vols’ weakness in the backcourt. A commitment from Moore gives Coach Martin a pure point guard, and allows Golden to play more minutes at his more natural shooting guard position. Martin will also add fellow commits D’Montre Edwards (Brevard Community College) and Derek Reese (Orlando, FL) to his rebuilt backcourt, along with redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous, who will likely replace graduating senior Cameron Tatum on the wing. 

Martin issued a statement wishing Washpun all the best in his continued basketball career, but his message to his remaining players was loud and clear.

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