By: Brandon Clay
It’s been an interesting year for one of the nation’s most storied programs. With the coaching change and the new staff getting their feet underneath them, it would have been very easy for the 2013 recruiting class to suffer as a result. Unfortunately for their opposition, that is not going to be the case.
On Wednesday afternoon, No. 1 Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Ore., picked Tennessee as her college destination. In the process, Russell’s pledge helps elevate a Lady Vol’s class that, at this time two weeks ago, didn’t have a single commitment, to now being in the discussion for the nation’s top class.
Last should college athletes be paid to play essay week, No. 8 Jannah Tucker of Randallstown, Md., picked the Vols as well giving coach Holly Warlick and her staff a class with two top 10 prospects in the fold already. That’s a distinction that for now can only be matched by the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Russell’s pledge will give Tennessee an offensive presence from the post game that they don’t currently have on the roster. A 6-foot-5 post, her game lends itself to a transition game where she can screen and pop for the open jumper or step out to the corner to knock down the open shot as well. While she might not be an elite shot blocker on the defensive end, Russell will bring length and shot-changing ability for the die-hard Tennessee fan base to celebrate for the next four years.
With current Lady Vol freshman Bashaara Graves and Jasmine Jones-Vaughn providing willing interior help with writing a narrative essay options, Russell will be able to play both inside and out which should allow her game to flourish quickly upon on her arrival to Knoxville next year. In time, Graves and Russell should become one of the nation’s top post tandems. Current sophomore Isabelle Harrison will also have two years with this group of post players, giving Warlick a true four-deep rotation that will be as deep as any in the collegiate game.
It doesn’t appear that Tennessee is done with their run in the 2013 recruiting class by any means. They are still actively recruiting four Super 60 prospects, all of whom have been on campus for official visits. Adding any possible combination of No. 2 Kaela Davis of Buford, Ga., No. 9 Tyler Scaife of Little Rock, Ark., No. 12 Kendall Cooper of Los Angeles, Calif., or No. 42 Jordan Reynolds of Portland, Ore., would give the staff one of the nation’s strongest recruiting i will pay you to do my homework classes, if not the No. 1 spot. Much like the heralded incoming class of 2004, this would be a group capable of leading the Rocky Top chant back to the Final Four again for the first time since 2008.
#PeachStateTV Extra: Brandon Clay and Keil Moore sit down with Marques Burnett talk about Russell’s impact at Tennessee:
Brandon Clay is the publisher of the JumpOffPlus.com and the owner of Peach State Basketball, Inc. The service is picked up by more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide. He serves as the Executive Camp Director for the EBA All-American, Fab Five and Super 64 Camps. In addition, he serves as a national recruiting analyst for ESPNHoopgurlz and a contributor to SLAM Magazine. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001 as an evaluator, event operator and trainer. You can reach him atBrandonClay@PeachStateBasketball.com