New York big man Tobe Awaka signed with Tennessee Friday after committing to the Vols as a member of the 2023 class in May.
Awaka graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School this spring, but committed to Tennessee in the 2023 class with the possibility of attending a prep school in the upcoming season.
Instead, Awaka will join Tennessee for the second session of summer school in July and will be a freshman this winter.
Awaka is not ranked as a member of the 2023 class in the 247sports composite rankings but brings physicality and rebounding to Knoxville.
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward was one of the top rebounders in the EYBL — Nike’s AAU circuit — and averaged 19.2 points and 13.9 rebounds per game in his senior season at Cardinal Hayes. Awaka was the 2022 New York Gatorade Player of the Year.
“Tobe gives us another big, strong presence in the post who plays a very physical brand of basketball,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “Tobe is an excellent student and had offers from multiple Ivy League programs. He’s very comfortable playing down on the block, he can score with either hand and he has a nice shooting touch. He rebounds and moves well, and we love his toughness and grit.”
Awaka comes to Knoxville from New York City and played for the same AAU program as Zakai Zeigler.
An under the radar recruit just like Zeigler, the Vols hope Awaka continues the successful pipeline of New York city players to Tennessee.
“Just like Zakai, Tobe continues the New York-to-Tennessee pipeline, which has produced many fan favorites over the years,” Barnes said.
Awaka’s signing leaves Tennessee just one open scholarship in the 2023 cycle after an offseason full of roster movement.
Kennedy Chandler left Tennessee for the NBA while Victor Bailey Jr, Justin Powell, Quentin Diboundje, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Handje Tamba all transferred.
Barnes and his staff added five-star Julian Phillips, four-star D.J. Jefferson and B.J. Edwards, Awaka and Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key.