Rick Barnes Officially Adds Pair of Forwards On Signing Day

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    Photo Credit: Jon Lopez/Nike

    The spring signing day for college basketball brought little drama for Tennessee as the two committed forwards in the 2017 class officially inked their scholarship papers with the Vols.

    Forwards Derrick Walker (Kansas City, Mo.) and Yves Pons (Fuveau, France) give Rick Barnes and the Vols some much-needed size on the roster.

    “Derrick is going to blend nicely into our team due to his combination of size, strength and toughness,” Barnes said of the 6-8, 250-pound power forward, who is ranked as a three-star by 247Sports. “We’re also excited about his basketball IQ and the fact that he’s a vocal defender, a good rebounder and an excellent ball-handler and passer for a player of his size.

    “So there are a lot of signs that point to him being able to help us immediately. His next challenge is to get himself into great shape so that he can make the kind of impact we believe he’s capable of.”

    While Walker brings a lot of size, Pons, a highly-touted international player, brings decent length at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds and a ton of athletic upside to the Vols after he chose Tennessee over Florida and others.

    “We’re very excited about the addition of Yves because he fits the culture and mentality of our program as a person, student and athlete,” Barnes said. “We’re all very thankful for the trust that he and his wonderful family back in France have placed in us. They’re wonderful people who have provided Yves with a strong foundation of character, accountability and work ethic.

    “Yves will bring elite athleticism, explosiveness and versatility to our program—both on the perimeter and inside. He’s a long, athletic wing who can defend multiple positions, play fast and finish in transition, along with rebound on both ends. The SEC is one of the most physical and athletic leagues in the country, and those are two areas Yves and our team have a chance to excel in.”

    Pons, who is rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports, becomes the highest-ranked signee Barnes has signed during his tenure at Tennessee.

    Walker and Pons join fall signee Zach Kent (6-10, 235 pounds) to give the Vols a trio of pieces to add to a roster that only has one player (Kyle Alexander) over 6-foot-7 scheduled to return in 2017-18. The Vols still have one open scholarship in the 2017 class with the departures of Robert Hubbs III (graduation), Lew Evans (graduation), Detrick Mostella (dismissed) and Kwe Parker (transfer).