By Steve Williams
Remember the United States Army recruiting picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger and declaring, “I Want You!”
Keep that in mind as you read on, except substitute Cuonzo Martin for Uncle Sam and change “You” to point guard.
Get the picture?
“I want a point guard,” says the University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach with a stern look and deep baritone voice.
Two point guards – Travon Landry and Trae Golden – who at one point in time were expected to be on UT’s 2013-14 roster are no longer Vols.
Landry of Huntington, W. Va., Prep was recently released from his National Letter of Intent at Martin’s request.
For a coach respected for his character, that decision was a little out of character for Martin. But it’s part of the business of big-time college athletics.
Landry had been committed to the Vols for a long time. His offensive numbers weren’t that good this past season as he played for one of the nation’s top high school teams, but he was regarded as tough defender in addition to his ball-handling skills.
Fortunately, Landry landed at New Mexico State and signed with the Aggies.
Not long after Landry was let go came the surprising news last week that Golden, Tennessee’s veteran point guard, was transferring, and would not be playing his senior season at UT.
Golden’s departure would give Coach Martin another available scholarship to use, and I immediately thought and hoped Tennessee might go after former Knoxville Central High standout Dre Mathieu, if it wasn’t too late.
But it was. Mathieu had already made up his mind and would soon sign with Minnesota, picking the Gophers over Ole Miss. Mathieu, who had a great season at Central Arizona Junior College, will be playing for new Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, who will be running the same up-tempo offense his dad uses at Louisville. It will be a great fit for Dre.
But the UT fan in me wishes he had gotten the chance to wear the Orange and White.
Mathieu had about 15 Division 1 scholarship offers. That list also included UCLA and Memphis. Why not Tennessee?
A report leaked out that Golden’s exit was “based on academics” and “repeated plagiarism.”
Could it be a first incident of plagiarism was why he mysteriously lost playing time during the middle of this past season?
I will miss Golden’s clutch free throw shooting. I won’t miss his out of control drives down the lane.
As Tennessee searches for a new point guard, I hope they find one who has the steadiness of a C.J. Watson, the ball-handling ability of a Billy Haun, the flashy passing of a Johnny Darden, the grit of a Rodney Woods and the showmanship of a Bobby Maze.
Good luck, Coach Martin.