In-State Center to Take Official Visit to Vols

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    (Photo via The Times Free Press)

    Tennessee’s coaches in basketball are busy trying to fill out their 2019 recruiting class and bolster their depth moving forward so they can have sustained success after this season, next season, and beyond. And they received good news on Monday when one of their biggest targets in the 2019 recruiting cycle scheduled an official visit to Knoxville later this fall.

    Jason Jitoboh is a 6-foot-10, 270-pound center who plays for Hamilton Heights in Chattanooga. He’s originally from Nigeria and came to Tennessee when he was 14. His recruitment blew up earlier this year, and that’s when he started getting attention from some bigger programs. Now, according to his AAU coach, he has four official visits lined up for the fall. And Tennessee will be one of the places he visits.

    Shortly after, Jake Weingarten of Stock Risers confirmed the dates of Jitoboh’s four official visits. He’ll come to Tennessee for his first visit which will take place September 14th through the 16th. He’ll travel to Florida and Illinois in October, and his final official visit will be to Louisville.

    The Cardinals are seen as the biggest threat to the Vols for Jitoboh right now. The talented big man picked up an offer from Louisville back in May, and he unofficially visited them not even a month later. Jitoboh also unofficially visited the Vols and Florida in the month of June.

    According to the 247Sports rankings, Jitoboh is the No. 190 overall player, No. 34 center, and the sixth-best player in the state of Tennessee. But he’s expected to rise in those rankings even more once his senior season begins and as he continues to polish his game.

    His play reminds me a lot of a slightly bigger, more defensive-oriented version of D.J. Burns, the four-star center/power forward the Vols signed in the 2018 class. At least that’s the feel I get from his highlight film.

    Jitoboh uses his big body to assert his will in the paint, and he has a variety of post moves to maneuver past defenders. He plays a more old school style of basketball offensively, and he does it well. He’s also a more than capable passer and can move well for his size. He’s very adept on the defensive side of the ball and is a true rim protector down low. Guards slashing inside to try and find an easy bucket won’t get one if Jitoboh is there guarding the basket. He’s physical inside and knows how to position himself to grab rebounds. With some more conditioning, he could be a double-double waiting to happen almost every night, assuming he can fit in well to the college game nowadays. His fit in modern college basketball may not be the best, but it’s clear he has a lot of raw talent.

    Per D1Circuit.com, Jitoboh averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 7 games during Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League earlier this year. He shot 70.7 percent from the field during that competition as well. As a junior last season for Hamilton Heights, Jitoboh averaged 8.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game according to MaxPreps. He shot 59.9 percent from the floor.

    When he first came to Hamilton Heights, Jitoboh was a huge, raw prospect from Nigeria. He weighed 340 pounds when he started high school, and he’s since trimmed down to 270 pounds and continues to improve his conditioning even more. If he slims down a little more and continues to get in shape, he could rise up even more in recruiting rankings.

    Not only were the Vols one of Jitoboh’s first offers back in June of 2017, but he has another connection to Tennessee as well.

    Jitoboh is mentored by former NBA big man Dickey Simpkins, and Simpkins played for Rick Barnes at Providence from 1990-94. Jitoboh trained with Simpkins at his Next Level Performance training company, and that’s one reason Barnes knows about him. That and he plays high school ball only about 90 minutes away from Knoxville.

    Right now, the Vols have two commitments in their 2019 class. Three-star forward and Bearden standout Drew Pember and three-star forward Davonte Gaines are Tennessee’s two commits in this current class. The Vols need to try and add a big man to their roster soon in order to replace senior Kyle Alexander after this season, and Jitoboh is their top remaining target in this cycle.



    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.