April 14, 2021

Rick Barnes likely to utilize Transfer Portal more this Off-Season

The Transfer Portal has reached an all-time high in terms of the number of players in the portal. Rick Barnes and his staff have utilized it before to land players like James Daniel, E.J. Anosike, Victor Bailey Jr., and now Justin Powell, so who else could they realistically get during this cycle.

Barnes and his assistants will most likely be in the Transfer Portal looking to add some offensive production for next season. Some names in the portal that could help include Walker Kessler, Jalen Cone, Marcus Carr, Tre Mitchell, and Noah Locke, to name a few. There are over 1,000 players in the portal now, so some other guys could likely land with the Vols when it’s all said and done.

Walker Kessler is transferring from North Carolina after averaging 4.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and roughly 9 MPG. The 7-1 Forward out of Georgia was a Top-25 Recruit coming out of High School last year. Barnes and staff offered him the first go-round and will most likely do the same this time as he is one of the most sought-after guys in the portal. According to Meyer, Tennessee has been reported to be in the top-5 along with Gonzaga, Michigan, Virginia, and Auburn.

Another name that may be familiar to Vol fans is Jalen Cone. That is because Tennessee almost had him in Orange as part of the 2019 recruiting class. Cone ultimately decided to go to Virginia Tech, where he led the ACC in 3-point field-goal percentage his Freshman year. Although his stats didn’t match that this past season he still played pretty well after battling an injury during the off-season. Cone would play a vital role on the offensive side, where the Vols need the most help.

Tre Mitchell was also a target for Tennessee for the 2019 Recruiting class but ultimately landed at UMass. He has earned A-10 Rookie of the Year and A-10 First Team Honors in the past two seasons with the Minutemen. During his time at UMass, he averaged roughly 31 MPG, 18 PPG, and 7 RPG. Mitchell could fit well into the Vols offense as a stretch four and generate some much-needed offensive production as he has done at UMass.

There’s a possibility Noah Locke could see Tennessee as a landing spot, but that all depends on if the SEC allows transfers to play immediately. If the SEC doesn’t let transfers play immediately, then it is likely that he and other SEC transfer land somewhere outside the conference. If they do allow them to play immediately, expect Tennessee to hunt for him.

Noah Locke played with Florida the past three seasons, starting in 79 of his 92 games with the Gators. He averaged 10.6 PPG and 2.4 RPG and hit 217 3-Pointers during his time in Gainesville. The 6-3 Guard also boasts a 6-8 Wingspan, enabling Barnes to turn him into a great defender and be an excellent two-way player.

No matter who the Vols pick up over the next few months, they need to have one thing in mind, scoring. The Vols were 180th in Field Goal Percentage and 201st from behind the arch. If Barnes and his staff want to win an SEC Title or go deeper into the NCAA Tournament, they need to add more scoring weapons, and the transfer portal is a great place to find them.

+ posts