Dan Fleser: Vols Get 3 Top Recruits; Lady Vols Sign Salary, Darby

Thursday, November 14, 2019 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee has added a power trio of prospects to its men’s basketball program for next season.

Signees Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer and Corey Walker Jr. constitute a recruiting class that’s ranked fourth nationally by ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals, according to a university release. All three of the players are among the nation’s top 40 prospects by the three websites.

“The combined talent and potential of Keon, Corey and Jaden is really exciting,” UT coach Rick Barnes said. “All three of them fit the culture of this program and come from incredible families who have provided wonderful support and guidance to get them to this point. It’s our responsibility now to help each of them take the next steps in their individual development – not only athletically but also as men.”

The Lady Vols, meanwhile, added a second prospect to their signing class in guard Destiny Salary of Jonesboro, Ark. She’s ranked as high as No. 59 nationally by espnW HoopGurlz. The 6-foot Salary signed a letter of intent on Wednesday along with wing Tess Darby of Greenfield, Tn.

For the Vols, the 6-5 Johnson is rated the top prospect in the state of Tennessee and among the top 35 recruits nationally. He averaged 24.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, three steals and 2.4 blocks per game last season for The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tn.

Johnson was named the most valuable player of USA Basketball’s annual summer mini-camp this year.

“Keon is truly an elite athlete – one of the most explosive, two-way players in the country at the high school level,” Barnes said. “We’re excited about what he brings on both ends of the floor and expect that he’ll make an immediate impact.”

Springer, who also stands 6-5, was a consensus top 20 prospect. The shooting guard plays for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he averaged 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season. IMG won the 2019 Geico high school national championship.

“Jaden will provide us outstanding ball-handling and scoring ability,” Barnes said. “Much like Keon, Jaden is someone who will immediately make us better on both ends of the floor.”

The 6-6 Walker is a consensus top 40 prospect who is attending Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. He played at Bishop Snyder High in Jacksonville, Fla., last season and was named first-team Class 4A all-state by Florida’s coaching association.

“Corey is one of the most naturally gifted offensive players in this class nationwide,” Barnes said. “… He certainly has the capacity to make big contributions to our team success as a freshman.”

Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper had been recruiting Salary when Harper was the coach at Missouri State. UT assistant coach Jennifer Sullivan also attended Jonesboro High before playing at Memphis. Salary was a Class 5A all-state honoree last season.

“Destiny is an athletic and high-energy guard,” Harper said. “She is aggressive getting to the basket and defending the ball.”

Salary visited UT the same October weekend as fellow signee Darby, who was the first high school prospect to commit to Harper. Darby is a four-star prospect who’s rated No. 144 nationally by ProspectsNation.com.

Darby averaged 19.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists last season for Greenfield High, which reached the Class A state semifinals.

“Tess is a skilled and competitive wing,” Harper said. “She’s a terrific shooter and has a high basketball IQ.”

* * *

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He may be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com

 


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