When Donnie Tyndall accepted the Tennessee job, he had no way of knowing he’d have to sign nearly an entire team in his first recruiting class. As if that wasn’t enough, he’d have precious little time to do so as the already limited pool of prospects was shrinking rapidly the minute he was hired. Fortunately for Vol fans, he proved to be up to the task, adding eight players in just a few weeks and stabilizing Tennessee’s roster in the process.
The Vols lost four of their top five scorers and replacing that kind of production is no easy task—even for programs that didn’t go through a coaching change—but Kevin Punter’s decision to decommit from Missouri and sign with Tennessee will go a long way towards that end. Punter, a 6-4, 180 pound guard from The Bronx, New York, spent the last two years tearing through the JUCO ranks at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, MO. Last season Punter averaged 20.3 points, shot 57.1% from the field (including 37.1% from three) and 82.7% from the charity stripe. Not surprisingly, his performance last year earned Punter First Team All-American honors. His scoring average, field goal, three-point and free throw shooting percentages all would have led the Vols last season.
Punter’s scoring prowess isn’t limited to one year of JUCO ball. As a freshman at State Fair he averaged nearly 13 points per game. He scored over 28 points per game as a high school senior (earning him State Player of the Year) and averaged 24.2 points in his lone season of prep basketball.
His prolific scoring ability translated to summer league ball where we wowed fans with his shooting stroke, range and ability to consistently put the ball in the basket in the Pilot Rocky Top League—he ranked second in the league in scoring (37.8 points per game). The talented junior guard with two years of eligibility remaining has all the tools to step in and provide an offensive spark immediately. He’ll battle Robert Hubbs III for time at shooting guard and could see some minutes at point guard as the Vols search to solidify that position.
Punter’s career can be summed up easily: he’s a scorer and a shooter. That’s what this team desperately needs. And that’s what may make him Tyndall’s biggest recruiting victory to date.