KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee men's basketball program has encountered a jolt of momentum the past two Fridays that leaves little doubt about its likely recruiting priority in the months ahead.
Last week, it was 6-foot-8 power forward D.J. Burns who committed to the Volunteers for the upcoming season.
This week, 6-foot-8 power forward Drew Pember from Knoxville's Bearden High School committed as part of their 2019 class.
Burns and Pember figure to solidify the program's frontcourt depth in the years to come, and their commitments mean the Vols will almost assuredly ramp up their hunt for a point guard to fill out their 2019 class.
Tennessee's top three ball-handling guards — Jordan Bone, Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden — will all be juniors this season, with no apparent heirs on the roster or committed to the 2019 class. The Vols could add a guard with their one available scholarship for the upcoming season, although that seems unlikely this late.
Pember and 6-foot-6 small forward Davonte Gaines are Tennessee's two commitments for 2019. Their earliest opportunity to sign will come in November.
That would leave the Vols just one more guaranteed slot in its 2019 class to pursue a guard for the future. More scholarships could open if players transferred or pursued professional opportunities after this season.
There is a chance Pember could arrive at Tennessee as part of the 2020 signing class, because he told multiple outlets after committing Friday that playing a year at a prep school is a possibility after he completes his senior year at Bearden.
For now, his commitment has Tennessee's 2019 class ranked 11th in the country, according to 247Sports.com.