JP Estrella was getting ready to leave a Tennessee basketball practice on his official visit in June.
There was a problem, though: Estrella didn’t want to go.
“It was really the only visit that I didn’t really want to leave,” Estrella said. “I remember we were watching a practice and all the stuff was packed up in Coach (Gregg) Polinsky’s car to head out. I just wanted to finish watching the practice.”
Estrella won’t have to worry about leaving in the future.
The four-star forward from Portland, Maine, announced his commitment to Tennessee on Friday. He is the third member of the 2023 class for UT, joining four-star forward Cade Phillips and four-star guard Freddie Dilione.
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The 6-foot-11, 210-pound Estrella visited UT twice. He took an unofficial visit in February when the Vols beat Vanderbilt and made the official visit in June when he couldn’t get enough of the Vols.
The Brewster Academy forward said seeing how the players and Coach Rick Barnes were connected lingered with him following the second trip to Knoxville.
“That was a big thing for me to see how tight they were and how much of a family they were,” Estrella said. “That and then the games, the games were crazy. The games are ridiculous. That was an environment I want to be in with thousands and thousands of fans cheering on the Vols.”
Estrella also took official visits to Iona, Iowa, Marquette and Syracuse. His recruitment picked up in the summer when he landed offers from Duke, Louisville and Kansas. He is the No. 40 player in the Nation in the 247Sports Composite. He initially was ranked the No. 166 prospects in May.
Dilione experienced a similar trajectory, rising from No. 152 in the country to No. 27 after impressing on the summer circuit.
Estrella’s recruitment rose as he grew. He was 6-5 as a sophomore then grew 6 inches during the summer before his junior year. He still played in the post before the growth spurt but viewed himself as a shooting big. He has learned to play a more physical brand while working in the post.
“I had to switch the mentality up a little bit,” Estrella said. “I worked on all the post stuff. I think I am an elite post player now.”
The Vols see the same. The coaching staff stressed his fit as a playmaking big during his recruitment. It worked and they added another highly ranked, fast-rising prospect to the 2023 class.
“Everything looks good for me now,” Estrella said. “I am going to Tennessee in less than a year. I am pretty hype about that.”
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.