The Tennessee Volunteers were headed into the 2014-15 college basketball season with hope for the future after a nice run into the Sweet Sixteen during the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, that all changed when Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin left for a head coaching position with the California Golden Bears and Tennessee’s strong recruiting class began abandoning ship.
With the initial hire of Donnie Tyndall, the Vols’ future looked to be dim. I never doubted his ability as a coach or his integrity as a leader, but even I thought with his past inability to recruit top players with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles that he wouldn’t be able to have success at a larger school in a far more difficult conference.
However, in just a few months Tyndall has recruited like a madman in order to bring in players who can supplement what this depleted Tennessee team lost in the offseason. Talented recruits like Detrick Mostella and Tariq Owens could make an immediate impact for the team, and the junior college transfers that Tyndall landed, such as Devon Baulkman and Kevin Punter Jr., should find a way into the team’s rotation very early on in the season.
Do I believe that Tyndall will be able to take the Vols into the 2015 NCAA Tournament? No, I don’t. Other SEC teams are having far more success consistently recruiting the top high school players, and Tennessee isn’t ready to compete with the top portion of the conference this early after the departure of Jarnell Stokes, Jordan McRae and Jeronne Maymon. However, this team should be a lock for the NIT and definitely has the potential to be a bubble tournament team if the right players can step up at the right time.
Tyndall may not be the coach many Vols fans wanted, but he’s already proving that he’s the right man for the job.