Dan Fleser: UT News And Thoughts

Thursday, June 25, 2020 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – Here’s three news items of recent vintage from the University of Tennessee athletic department and some corresponding thoughts:

 

News: Tennessee has confirmed this week that a second men’s basketball player has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was reported last Friday.

 

The two athletes, who are in quarantine, are the only UT athletes who are known to have tested positive for the virus.

 

Men’s and women’s basketball players were allowed to return to campus on June 15.

Football players began voluntary workouts on June 8.

 

Thoughts: Presently, the situation is a numbers game and Tennessee’s meager total is much more manageable than many other schools.

 

Odds are, though, that the numbers eventually will increase. Other fall sports student-athletes are scheduled to return to campus early next month.

 

At some point, risk tolerance likely will factor into the equation, whether it be the number of athletes quarantined or the nature of their recoveries.

 

Schools can’t sequester their athletes in the same manner as professional leagues. Therefore, they will assume more health risks to train and to play sports.

 

News: Kamar Wilcoxson, a noteworthy commitment to Tennessee football’s recruiting class for 2021, flipped to Florida last week.

 

The 6-foot-1, 183-pound defensive back is rated a four-star prospect. His departure cost UT a spot in the national recruiting rankings. The Vols now are No. 3 in the 247Sports composite.

 

Thoughts: This marks the third time that Wilcoxson has committed to the Gators. He still had referred to Florida as his dream school after committing to the Vols in April.

 

Given his history, Wilcoxson’s change of heart shouldn’t be surprising. If he doesn’t flip again, that might be a surprise. No, when it comes to recruiting, there’s no such thing as a surprise.

 

Tennessee’s biggest concern will be whether Wilcoxson convinces anyone to join him. He’s well-connected and was an active peer recruiter for UT’s class.

 

News: Tennessee and Connecticut announced the date for the second of two women’s basketball games that have been billed as the Hall of Fame Revival Series.

 

The teams are scheduled to play Jan. 21 in Thompson-Boling Arena. They played for the first time in 13 years last season in Hartford, Conn., with the Huskies winning 60-45. The Pat Summitt Foundation also was a winner. The event raised $10,000 for the foundation established by the late UT coach in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Thoughts: Must’ve forgot that these games had their own title. It’s good to remember that they raise money for a good cause.

 

Tennessee still can’t look Connecticut squarely in the eye competitively. But the atmosphere should be lively with UConn coach Geno Auriemma returning to Knoxville for the first time in 14 years.

 

“I’m sure the fans in Rocky Top have missed me,” he said.

 

He’s missed them too.

 

* * *

 

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.

         


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