Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl established a strong relationship with Cordell Passley long before the 6-foot-2, 195-pound combo guard played for Pike High School in Indianapolis, Ind. That long relationship was one of the reasons why the class of 2008 prospect is headed to the SEC.
Pearl and assistant Tony Jones recruited Passley's older brother Anthony out of high school when the coaches were at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and even though the older Passley did not attend the Horizon League school, the relationship was already grounded with the family.
"We've been real fond of Coach Pearl and Coach Jones. It's just that bond we have with them over the period of time," Passley said. "They would always just call and check in on our boys and make sure they were doing alright and playing well."
That bond has been the foundation of trust for the Passley family, making the decision for Cordell even easier, says his mother.
"I really trust Coach Pearl and Coach Jones that they will help my son with growth and development as a player and I have put my trust in their hands to help him grow into a good young man on and off the court," Shelia Passley said.
"I couldn't be happier. Coach Pearl is energetic and has good charisma but he's also honest and fair with his players. He and Coach Jones aren't just good coaches, they are special coaches."
According to Passley's mother, Shelia, her son always wanted to be a Volunteer so when Pearl took the job over a month ago, the rising sophomore "went crazy".
Passley made an unofficial visit to Knoxville over the weekend with his father and decided to not drag out the recruiting process any further.
"He just fell in love with the campus, the facilities and the players," Shelia Passley said. "He really enjoyed himself."
Passley shined with the SYF Players 16 and under team at the Kingwood Classic. He showed off a good ability to play the point but also shined as a shooter. Playing limited minutes on varsity as a freshman last year at Pike, Passley was very effective with the JV squad by scoring over 25 points a contest.
The youngster will play at the Nike All-American camp again this summer. He was the youngest player to ever play at the prestigious camp last season. Passley will also attend the Nike Hoop Jamboree in St. Louis this summer.
Passley also had interest in Indiana and Kentucky.
Anthony Passley recently finished his career at Redlands Junior College in Oklahoma this year. He is currently in the process of making a decision himself.