It could be a wild offseason for the Tennessee Vols Men’s Basketball team as they undergo several personnel changes between their staff and players. So far, it is confirmed that Assistant Coach Kim English is headed to George Mason to be their next Head Coach, and Freshman Guard Jaden Springer has declared for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent. Sophomore’s Davonte Gaines and Drew Pember have also released statements about their intentions to transfer from the program, but we will have to wait and see where their landings spots will be.
With those departures from the program, there are still several more question marks with this team. Seniors Yves Pons and John Fulkerson have the opportunity to return next season due to the NCAA’s policies regarding Covid-19. Pons is likely to leave for the Draft as he is projected to be picked in the 2nd Round by many analysts and mock drafts. Fulkerson’s future with the program is uncertain as he hasn’t made his decision public yet. Fulkerson also had a lackluster Senior season and was sidelined for the final two games with a facial injury, which could help fuel his return.
It was announced back in January that Grad Transfer E.J. Anosike would return to the program in 2021-22. Along with him, Victor Bailey Jr., Uros Plavsic, Josiah-Jordan James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Santiago Vescovi, and Corey Walker are all expected to return. Keon Johnson has not made an official statement yet, but he is also likely to leave the program as many NBA Analysts have him projected to go as a Lottery pick. If Johnson, Springer, Pons, Fulkerson, Gaines, and Pember all leave the program, where does that leave the Vols?
That would give Tennessee 10 Scholarship players for next year, including the two members of the 2021 Recruiting Class, Kennedy Chandler, and Jahmai Mashack, and Auburn transfer Justin Powell. That would mean Rick Barnes would be left searching for 2-3 more guys to fill out the roster through high school recruits and the transfer portal.
Out of all the High School recruits left, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield is the biggest target that Tennessee can still get. Jerry Meyer, Director of Basketball Scouting, gave the Vols a crystal ball in Early March for the 2022 Forward. Some rumors are floating around that Huntley-Hatfield could reclassify and join the team this upcoming summer. Huntley-Hatfield is rated as the #6 player in the country for the 2022 class and the #1 Power Forward according to 247 Sports. Whatever the Vols do, they will need to pick up some key players for next season as the players departing leave a big void to fill.