Tennessee basketball has added a third, and arguably the biggest, piece to its 2017 recruiting class.
Rick Barnes and the Vols have secured a commitment from Yves Pons, an explosive, ultra-athletic 6-foot-6 wing from INSEP Academy in France.
Pons picked the Vols over Florida and Texas Tech, the two other schools he visited during a trip to the United State in December.
Listed at 6-6, 217 pounds, Pons is a four-star prospect according to the 247Sports composite, rated as the No. 112 player overall in the class of 2017, the No. 22 small forward and the top French prospect in his class.
Pons will be the highest rated player Barnes has brought to Tennessee in his first two recruiting cycles.
Pons’ primary recruiter at Tennessee was assistant coach Michael Schwartz, though Barnes played an aggressive role in chasing the prized recruit.
He ultimately chose Tennessee over the Gators because of Barnes’ history of player development and production of NBA talent during his coaching career.
Scouts have projected Pons as either a small forward or power forward in the NBA, but he’ll play wing at Tennessee as he develops his game.
According to his DraftExpress profile, Pons is “ridiculously powerful and explosive” with an ability to pull off “in-game dunks you might expect to see in a dunk contest.”
He’s also listed as a multiple-position defender who can cover guards, wings and forwards, using strength and lateral quickness.
DraftExpress wrote the following for Pons’ “Outlook”:
“Pons caught the eyes of NBA scouts early and often in Kaunas thanks to his elite physical profile, high-flying dunks, above the rim blocks, defensive versatility and occasional spot shooting. Although he’s not short on deficiencies, Pons is exactly what many NBA teams are looking for – a long and athletic combo forward who can defend one through four and make enough spot threes to keep the defense honest. Honing his 3-point stroke and at least becoming a passable ball handler and playmaker will be key for Pons’ NBA potential moving forward. Born and adopted from Haiti, Pons moved to France at age four. He may have a chance to develop those skills in the States, as he’s reportedly considering playing college basketball next season – as he’s being recruited by the likes of Texas Tech, Tennessee and Florida at the moment, but also is getting looks around Europe. Pons proved to be one of the top NBA prospects in attendance thanks to his tools and fit in today’s NBA as a combo forward.”
Tennessee signed 6-10 center Zach Kent, a three-star prospect from Delaware, during the fall signing period. Derrick Walker, a three-star 6-8 power forward from Kansas City, announced his commitment to the Vols on Jan. 3, choosing Tennessee over Georgia and St. John’s.
The Vols will be able to sign Walker and Pons during college basketball’s spring signing period, which opens April 12 and closes May 17