Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #23 Tennessee Volunteers

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NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 24: Tennessee Volunteers guard Santiago Vescovi (25) brings the ball down the floor during a game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and Tennessee Volunteers, February 24, 2021, at Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Tennessee Volunteers

Last season ended up being a disappointment for the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols lost some games that they should have won and got bounced in the Round of 64 in March. Then they lost their top two scorers from last year, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, to the NBA. Both of them got selected in the first round of the draft. They also lost Yves Pons, a longtime contributor for the team. But the Vols still have talent left over from last season, plus they’re bringing in the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country. They are also bringing a very good transfer as well in former Auburn guard Justin Powell. He played very well in his only season with the Tigers. But do keep in mind that it was a very small sample size of only ten games.

The returning players are led by senior guard Victor Bailey Jr. and graduate forward John Fulkerson. Bailey Jr. averaged 10.0PPG/2.0RPG/1.6APG last season. Fulkerson added 9.5PPG/5.5RPG/1.7APG. They will be the leaders of this team in terms of experience.

As I mentioned, Tennessee has 2021’s fourth-ranked recruiting class. PG Kennedy Chandler and PF Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, two five-star recruits who are the eighth and twenty-fifth overall prospects in this year’s class respectively, headline the class. They are both massive additions. Expect Chandler to have the ball in his hands a lot as the top-ranked freshman point guard in the country. The Volunteers also have two other top 100 prospects in their seven-man class in C James Aidoo and SF Jamai Mashack (#’s 39 and 61 respectively.). I am a big fan of Aidoo, a center from Charlotte, and I have him starting from day one. Three-star PG Zakai Ziegler is widely regarded as a very under-the-radar pickup late in the recruiting cycle. Ziegler picked up a ton of offers at all levels over the summer after dominating on the Nike EYBL circuit back in July.

This team has a ton of players with good ballhandling skills. Chandler, Ziegler, Powell can all make plays. So too can versatile forward Josiah-Jordan James and returning starting guard Santiago Vescovi. After turning the ball over on 18% of their possessions the last two seasons, the Tennessee Volunteers should be better in that aspect this years.

Projected Lineup

PG – Kennedy Chandler (#8 recruit)

G – Victor Bailey Jr. (10.0PPG/2.0RPG/1.6APG)

G – Justin Powell (11.7PPG/6.1RPG/4.7APG)

PF – John Fulkerson (9.5PPG/5.5RPG/1.7APG)

C – James Aidoo (#39 recruit)

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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