Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Crews Picks the Vols
Darren Epps; Staff Writer
Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl is putting together one of the top recruiting classes in the country before he ever coaches a Volunteers game.
Pearl landed the school's most highly rated men's basketball commitment since Vincent Yarbrough on Monday when 6-foot-7 forward Duke Crews announced he'll play for the Vols in 2006. Crews, from Hampton, Va., is one of the top high school seniors in the country and picked the Vols over Wake Forest and Georgetown.
"It's not all about the name of the school," said Crews, ranked the No. 10 small forward nationally by Rivals.com. "Tennessee is where I felt most comfortable. I want to be a part of starting some success at Tennessee. I believe it's a program on the rise."
Crews cited his relationship with Pearl and assistant coach Tony Jones as one of the main reasons he spurned several ACC schools for the Vols. Crews also took an official visit to defending national champion North Carolina.
"Coach Pearl and Coach Jones were both straightforward with me from day one," Crews said. "They said they wanted me, but more than that they needed me."
Crews joins 6-8 forward Wayne Chism, rated the nation's No. 42 player overall, and point guard Marques Johnson as commitments for the 2006 class. Johnson is one of the top prospects in the state of Indiana.
But the gem of the class so far is Crews, who was the No. 2 player at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis last summer and is ranked the No. 28 player overall by Rivals.
"It's pretty surprising he picked Tennessee," Rivals recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "It really does solidify the job Coach Pearl and his staff are doing in recruiting. To land Duke Crews is maybe a statement commitment as far as establishing the fact this coaching staff can get it done recruiting against top programs. They went into ACC country and beat out those guys."
Crews attended the same high school, Bethel, as NBA star Allen Iverson. Meyer said Crews will be equally entertaining.
"The Tennessee fans are going to love Duke Crews," Meyer said. "He battles. He brings it. He plays with such a passion. He's an intimidating figure out there on the court. More times than not, when you travel and see these kids, you're disappointed because they don't play with a passion. Duke is not like that at all.
"To get one like that and who is so talented, that's why it's so big for Tennessee."
E-mail Darren Epps at firstname.lastname@example.org
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