Tennessee's announcement yesterday that Madison, Alabama's 6-foot-3, 180-pound combo guard Jordan Howell will be joining the Volunteers this summer is the final piece in the puzzle left over from the Jim Harrick era at Georgia.
Following Harrick's dismissal and Dennis Felton's hiring, four of the Bulldogs' five signees asked for and received a release from the national letter of intent each had signed with this SEC school in November 2002. Howell was the last of those four to hook up with a new program. The fifth, 6-foot-8 in-state power forward Corey Gibbs, decided to follow through and enroll at Georgia even though the NCAA has yet to decide how big a penalty will be assessed on the program because of the reported academic violations. (From this reporter's perspective, the "if" question has already been decided by the NCAA.)
Howell visited Vanderbilt, Alabama and Auburn and was also considering Texas before deciding to join the Volunteers. He can shoot the basketball and score from anywhere on the court. Howell averaged 17.5 points on 47 percent shooting from three-point range as a senior at Bob Jones High School, which finished 30-6 this past season.
Like 6-foot-9 California power forward Mohamed Abukar, Howell needed to wait for the SEC to waive their normal transfer rule so he could move to another conference school. Abukar signed with Kentucky earlier this month.
The other two ex-Georgia signees, South Plains Junior College duo Cassiano Matheus, a 6-foot-10 center, 245-pound center from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Marcus Jackson, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward from Peoria, Illinois, were able to conclude their recruiting earlier since they had to overcome just two, rather than three, hurdles. After receiving the "qualified release" from Georgia, the NLI Steering Committee granted each a complete waiver of the loss-of-eligibility penalty for not enrolling at the school with which they had signed the NLI. Jackson signed with Marquette and Matheus inked with Utah State.