Five-Star Center Lists Tennessee in Top 10 After Mom’s Support

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    Ernest Udeh Tennessee

    Photo via Ernest Udeh Jr. (@ErnestUdehJr) on Twitter.

    On Monday, head coach Rick Barnes received some good news when the Tennessee Volunteers basketball team was included in the Top 10 of five-star center Ernest Udeh Jr.

    Udeh, a 2022 top-100 player from Orlando, FL, has a wide range of rankings across significant recruiting networks. For example, 247Sports lists Udeh as a five-star, whereas ESPN has him ranked as a four-star. Meanwhile, Rivals has Udeh listed as a three-star player. However, combined, they all tell the same story that Udeh is an immensely talented player.

    The list of the top 10 finalists for Udeh, which Zagsblog first released, includes three SEC schools. Udeh’s entire top 10 list is as follows: Michigan, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Tennessee, Alabama, UCLA, Miami, Baylor, and Overtime Elite.

    The 6-foot-10, 230-pound center talked about the Tennessee program during the announcement on Monday.

    “They’ve recruited me very strongly, even before they extended an offer to me,” Udeh said in an interview with Zagsblog. “I feel like that’s a genuine program and [has] a great relationship with my mom.”

    Udeh specifically mentioned that Tennessee had done a lot to make his mother feel comfortable around the program and coaches. In many ways, for some recruits, there is no more meaningful outside opinion than a parent or family member. And in the case of Udeh, Tennessee made sure to show his mother that she was a priority for them too.

    “In my conversations with her, she’s comfortable with [Tennessee],” Udeh said. “And if she’s comfortable, I’m comfortable.”

    UAA Communications photo by Hannah White

    If anyone around Udeh is uncomfortable, though, it is likely his opponents on the basketball court. Udeh’s size, along with his strength, has been a tremendous advantage for him. It is also one of the biggest keys to his success.

    From Dr. Phillips high school in the class of 2022, Udeh has received over 20 Divison-1 scholarship offers.

    However, with such a big list of teams remaining, Tennessee is trying to show Udeh how much they can help his development. And how much that evolution can help him transition into the NBA. Just like recent Tennessee players Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer did, as well.

    “[Tennessee] talked to me about development and how they play,” Udeh said. “How they play fast with guys that have my ability, and they can use that.”

    Barnes has a good jump on the 2022 recruiting class, but the addition of five-star center Ernest Udeh would undoubtedly be a massive addition for Tennessee. Currently, the Vols’ 2022 class has one commit in total. That would be BJ Edwards, a four-star point guard from Knoxville.

    According to Zagsblog, “Udeh has risen from the nation’s No. 20-ranked center to the No. 20 overall prospect in the class of 2022” since June.

    Five-star center Ernest Udeh Jr. released his Top 10 finalists on Monday, which did include Tennessee basketball. However, Udeh did not announce an official commitment date.

    “I’m going to go through my basketball season with that focus in mind to become back-to-back state champs,” Udeh told Zagsblog. “That’s the goal, even national champs. I’m just putting my focus on the season. When the time comes, it’s going to be what it is. When it starts to settle down, I’ll probably cut my list even shorter and then be ready to make a commitment.”

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.