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Bruce Pearl gets his point guard


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Since at least December Bruce Pearl and his staff have been searching aggressively for a point guard to add to the 2009 class in the late signing period. That search heated up this weekend when Mt. San Jacinto JC point guard Melvin Goins made it to Knoxville for an official visit.

That search ended this weekend as Goins verbally committed to Tennessee.

"I loved it, everything about the visit was great," Goins said of what pushed him into a decision on his first official visit of the spring. "I really liked the environment, the atmosphere with the players, the coaching staff. It was all what I was looking for."

Goins, who originally signed with Ball State out of high school and then transferred to Mt. San Jacinto in San Diego for his sophomore season. Goins was the Player of the Year in the Foothills Conference this past season averaging 17.2 ppg and 5.0 assists.

Like almost any junior college player Goins rates the opportunity for early playing time as high on his list, as well as the chance to play for a winning program. In Tennessee, he sees the opportunity for both.

"Having a chance to win is big to me, and they're a school that's been in the NCAA tournament every year that coach Pearl has been here," Goins said. "And it's a great opportunity for me on the court to come in and have a chance to contribute early. I don't expect anything to be given to me but if I come in and work hard I'll have a chance to help out."

The opportunity for Goins seems clear on a team that struggled with the point guard position all season long. Wing Josh Tabb was forced into a back-up role at the point where he shared the role with starter Bobby Maze. Freshman Daniel West, who is enrolled in school as a partial qualifier at the moment could be in the mix there as well in the fall. But with the position never turning into a strength at any point in the year, it's easy to see why Pearl and his staff were interested in finding another able body.

One of the reasons that the staff appeared to focus in on Goins as a target was his reputation as a defender. Ball pressure on the perimeter was something Pearl was critical of all season long and Goins knows that he's expected to help in that department.

"I take a lot of pride in my defense," said Goins, who's built like a compact strong safety. "Coach Pearl explained they style of play he's looking for to me and how he thinks I'll fit into that. Bringing intensity on the defensive end is something he talked to me about and that's something I think I can do."

Goins chose Tennessee over offers from Marquette, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Nebraska. Now that he's made his decision though, he's putting a firm end to his recruitment.

"I'm definitely done. When you see a good thing you need to go ahead and grab it," Goins said with a laugh. "I'm going to let all those other schools know and I'm finished taking visits and everything."

Goins will sign with Tennessee during the late period which begins on April 15.

He joins power forward Kenny Hall to give the Vols two newcomers in the 2009 class.

Tennessee had also spent time recruiting Miami Dade CC point guard Rico Pickett, who began his career at Alabama. Goins commitment would seem to signal an end to that pursuit.

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It'll be nice having a physical, defensive-minded PG instead of the flashy, sloppy play of Bobby Maze. Daniel West has been telling people that he will be eligible for next season. Hopefully that's the case as West would easily be our best PG on the roster. Regardless of how this works out, we've got the #2 rated PG in the nation (Josh Selby) coming in 2010 and two top SGs (Aaron Craft (can also play the 1) and Jordan McCrae).

Maybe Pearl will actually have these guys play hard and know how to run a half-court offense.

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