A former Vol basketball player has decided the path to more playing time is just down the road.
Derek Stribling, who played in 58 games the past two seasons for UT, is transferring to Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.
While he had left the Volunteers shortly after the end of the school year, it was not until Friday that he announced his new school of choice. Stribling said he picked the Golden Eagles over the University of New Orleans.
The 6-foot-6 forward from Tallahassee, Fla., must sit out the 2003-2004 season due to NCAA transfer rules but will have two years of eligibility at Tech beginning with the 2004-2005 season.
"Derek will have a chance to be a really important player for us," TTU coach Mike Sutton said. "He's very athletic, and he'll have a chance to be one of the top players in the OVC.
"I think this will be a good situation for him. He's looking forward to it and we are, too."
Stribling said he liked the direction the TTU program was heading.
"I just felt like Tennessee Tech was a good fit for me," said Stribling. "I like the program, and I like what coach Sutton had to say. He knows what he's talking about."
"I got to meet all the guys on the team and I think we are going to have a good team this year and an even better team in two years," he said.
He joins a Golden Eagle squad that finished 20-12 last year and returns one starter, point guard Cameron Crisp.
Even through Stribling won't be able to suit up for Tech in 2003-2004, he will get a chance to learn the system and contribute in the team's practices.
"I'm going to work hard to improve my game and try to make the players better in practice," Stribling said. "I just want to work hard and do my best."
Stribling started eight of 27 games last season for the Vols, averaging 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds and usually received high marks for his defensive skills.
As a freshman at UT, Stribling averaged 10 minutes per game while seeing action in 31 contests. He started two games and averaged 1.8 points and 1.2 rebounds.
At Rickards High School in Tallahassee, he was named first-team Class 4A All-State by the Florida Sports Writers Association as a senior, averaging 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game.
He was rated as the No. 46 high school senior in the nation by BlueChips.com and was listed as the No. 3 senior in Florida by HoopsShowcase.com.