Tennessee added its third basketball signee of the early signing period recently when Tobias Harris signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UT and play for the Volunteers starting with the 2010-11 season. The 6-8, 220-pound forward from New York made his decision public Thursday during a live announcement at the ESPN Zone in Manhattan's Times Square that was televised live on ESPNU.
Harris is rated by Rivals.com as the nation's best forward in the class of 2010 and the country's No. 5 overall prospect. And on the ESPNU Top-100 list, Harris is ranked as the nation's third-best power forward nationally.
"I really had a great relationship with (UT head coach Bruce) Pearl and (associate head coach Tony) Jones," Harris said during his nationally televised announcement. "It's just a family atmosphere down there. I got along with the players real well, and it's just a great opportunity and fit for me."
With the signing of Harris, Tennessee's 2010 recruiting class is now ranked fourth nationally by Rivals.com.
"(This is) huge for our program to get not only a quality player like Tobias, but also a quality young man," Pearl said, "He's a great kid from a great family. He's the kind of guy that's going to help your program on and off the court. On the floor not only can he be a dominant player, but he also makes everyone around him better.
"My coaching staff did a tremendous job. Tony Jones was really outstanding with his recruitment of Tobias from start to finish."
Like fellow early-period Tennessee signees Jordan McRae and Trae Golden--both guards from Georgia--Harris plans to enroll at UT next summer.
"(Tobias) was really impressed with the Sports management program," Pearl said. "That was a big factor for him. He loved that major and could really see himself being successful academically at Tennessee."
As a junior last season at Long Island Lutheran High School, Harris averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds per game while leading the Crusaders to the New York state Class A championship.
He is currently a senior at Half Hollow Hills West High School in Dix Hills, N.Y., where he is coached by Bill Mitaritonna.
Already a high-profile prospect, Harris garnered even more national praise this past summer when he turned in outstanding performances at the LeBron James Skills Academy and the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp.
"He liked our style of play, he liked our campus, the things that we do, but I think our kids were a big factor for Tobias," Pearl said. "I think it makes a statement about our players. Tobias wanted to come and play here in large part because of the teammates he was going to have. We have good character kids and that was important to Tobias."
Harris' father, Torrel, played collegiately at Duquesne and Murray State. And Tobias' older sister, Tesia, plays basketball at the University of Delaware. He also is a cousin of Phoenix Suns center Channing Frye.