Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin Loses Recruit to Former Bruce Pearl Assistant

Michael BaggettCorrespondent IApril 28, 2011

Bruce Pearl is still having a affect on Tennessee recruiting.
Bruce Pearl is still having a affect on Tennessee recruiting.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Did new Tennessee head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin get beat out by a former Bruce Pearl assistant for the services of highly touted prospect Chris Jones?

Not really, but it doesn’t look good when your best recruit passes up a offer at a Division I school to play junior college ball for one of the coaches who actually did the recruiting.

Jones, ranked as the 66th overall recruit by ESPNU, committed to UT after asking for his release but later meeting with Martin.

But Jermaine Johnson, Jones’s high school coach, told The Commercial Appeal in Memphis  that Jones will enroll at Northwest Flordia State College, where former Tennessee assistant Steve Forbes was just named the head coach last week. 

Johnson said going the junior college route will allow Jones to focus on his academics.

But according to the report, Jones still has two more attempts to qualify academically. 

Wouldn’t you want to take the maximum amount of tests before announcing you’re going the JUCO route?

Martin said the news of Jones going JUCO won’t be official until he hears it from Jones, but added he will continue to recruit him if he isn’t on the current roster next year, according to the Knoxville New Sentinel. 

Which leads to an interesting question.

Will Martin be competing with Bruce Pearl for the services of Jones?

Pearl is currently without a job and will learn his coaching fate after a hearing with the NCAA in June. 

If Pearl gets another coaching gig in the next couple of years, Jones will be on his radar. 

And Forbes is providing the pipeline. 

With the announcement of Jones, Martin has lost two highly touted recruits who originally committed to the Vols.

Kevin Ware, the 93rd overall ranked prospect by ESPNU, committed to Central Florida last week. 

Martin has signed Josh Richardson, a 3-star recruit from Santa Fe, OK, and Wesley Washpun, a 2-star recruit from Cedar Rapids, IA. 

With the possible defections of Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson, the Tennessee roster could be in disarray heading into the next season. 

Both players have submitted paperwork to make themselves eligible for the NBA draft but have until May 8 to change their minds. 

If both leave, the domino effect could begin.