Head coach Rick Barnes announced an international addition to the Tennessee basketball program Wednesday, as Yves Pons (pronounced: EEV PAHNS) has signed a National Letter of Intent to enroll at the University of Tennessee.
An exact enrollment date has not been set for the 6-6, 210-pound wing from Fuveau, France, as Pons plans to play with the French team at the 2017 FIBA U18 European Championships (Division A). Group Phase competition takes place in the Slovak Republic from July 29-August 6.
Pons will be a freshman for the Volunteers starting next season, however, and intends to major in Business.
The 17-year-old Pons is rated as a four-star prospect in the 2017 industry-generated 247Sports Composite.
“We’re very excited about the addition of Yves because he fits the culture and mentality of our program as a person, student and athlete,” Barnes said. “We’re all very thankful for the trust that he and his wonderful family back in France have placed in us. They’re wonderful people who have provided Yves with a strong foundation of character, accountability and work ethic.
“Yves will bring elite athleticism, explosiveness and versatility to our program—both on the perimeter and inside. He’s a long, athletic wing who can defend multiple positions, play fast and finish in transition, along with rebound on both ends. The SEC is one of the most physical and athletic leagues in the country, and those are two areas Yves and our team have a chance to excel in.”
Pons possesses large hands, broad shoulders and a chiseled, well-developed upper body. And his elite-level athleticism, lateral quickness and high motor enable him to excel as a multi-positional defender.
He was considered one of the top-10 international prospects at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championships in Zaragoza, Spain. He shot .769 on two-point field-goal attempts at that event and displayed efficiency and power while finishing plays around the basket. He also averaged 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per 40 minutes at the championships.
Pons—who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti—attends the INSEP (National Institute of Sport and Physical Education) Academy in Paris. Notable INSEP alums include Boris Diaw, Tony Parker and Ronny Turiaf.
Other major international and showcase events on Pons’ resume include the 2014 U16 European Championship in Latvia (his French squad won the championship with a 9-0 record) and the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic events in both Croatia (March) and New York City (April).
He will be Tennessee’s first-ever men’s basketball player from France and just the eighth international player in program history.
Pons becomes the third signee in this Tennessee recruiting class, joining forwards Zach Kent and Derrick Walker.