The Fighting Irish center reclassifies from being a senior at KCHS to a member of the UT class of 2021
By Dan McWilliams
Knoxville Catholic High School basketball big man Handje Tamba became the second member of the Fighting Irish to commit to the University of Tennessee this year when he made his decision to join the Vols on July 27.
The 7-foot, 215-pound center from the Congo reclassified from being a senior at KCHS to a member of the UT class of 2021.
Handje averaged 10.3 points per game, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks with a field-goal percentage of 58.4 for the Irish.
“We will miss Tamba’s rim protection,” said Knoxville Catholic head coach Mike Hutchens. “He blocked 70 shots last year and changed 100 more. It allowed us to play a tight man knowing we had him at the rim to protect.”
Handje “obviously has had a lot of interest” from colleges, Mr. Hutchens said. “He has been offered by Vanderbilt , Georgetown, and Auburn, to name a few. Vandy and Georgetown showed a lot of interest.”
Former KCHS post player Akeem Odusipe, who was a leader on the Fighting Irish’s 2020 state championship team, is now a scholarship player for Vanderbilt. And current KCHS guard Presley Patterson, a senior, committed to Vanderbilt in December.
BJ Edwards, a senior point guard at KCHS, committed to the Vols earlier in the summer.
“It means a lot to have two kids going to play for the Vols,” Mr. Hutchens said. “I finished my degree from the University of Tennessee, and my dad worked there in transportation services for 30 years. These kids are super-talented and great young men. Proud our coaching staff has been able to aid them to reach their goals.”
The KCHS head coach said he thinks Handje “will eventually be a big contributor for the Vols.”
“I know [UT head] coach [Rick] Barnes is a great developer of players and does it the right way,” Mr. Hutchens said. “Tamba has only played basketball four years. He will develop his shot and offensive skills with the Vol staff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the NBA if he continues to work hard.”
The cupboard won’t be bare at KCHS with Handje’s departure.
“We do still have some size,” Mr. Hutches said. “6-foot-7 forward Alex Doerger will be important for us this upcoming season. Alex has experience in the post and is a good 3-point shooter who can stretch defenses when guarded by posts. We also have 6-foot-7 Deondrea Lindsey, an athletic freshman who can shoot the 3 and can finish inside. Deondrea is ranked as a top-40 player for his class by 247Sports.”