#25 Tennessee Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Tennessee Volunteers
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
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After a spectacular 2018-19 season where Tennessee was ranked number one in the nation for a time, the Volunteers had a setback last year going just 17-14. Senior guard Lamonte Turner had a season-ending injury early in the season and the Volunteers never fully adjusted. This season, Tennessee gets the majority of their production back from last year along with the addition of two five-star recruits. The Volunteers’ mix of experience and elite freshmen makes them one of the best teams in the SEC.
2019-20 Record: 17-14, 9-9
Coach: Rick Barnes
Coach Record: 105-64 at Tennessee, 709-378 overall
Key Departed Players:
Jordan Bowden, Guard, 13.7 ppg
Lamonte Turner, Guard, 12.3 ppg
Jalen Johnson, Guard, 3.5 ppg
Key Returning Players:
John Fulkerson, Senior, Forward, 13.7 ppg
Yves Pons, Senior, Forward, 10.8 ppg
Santiago Vescovi, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 ppg
Josiah-Jordan James, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 ppg
Olivier Nkamhoua, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 ppg
Uros Plavsic, Sophomore, Center, 2.6 ppg
Davonte Gaines, Sophomore, Guard, 2.5 ppg
Drew Pember, Sophomore, Forward, 1.3 ppg
Key New Players:
E.J. Anosike, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Sacred Heart
Victor Bailey, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Oregon
Keon Johnson, Freshman, Guard
Jaden Springer, Freshman, Guard
Corey Walker, Freshman, Forward
The graduation of guards Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner will hurt, but Tennessee still has a strong roster entering this season. John Fulkerson had a breakout junior season averaging 13.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals. Fellow senior forward Yves Pons is a big-time athlete with NBA upside. The two big men will combine to form one of the top frontcourts in the SEC. Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James were both full-time starters as freshmen and are poised for sophomore leaps this season. Olivier Nkamhoua, Uros Plavsic, Davonte Gaines and Drew Pember all played limited roles as freshmen last season and their gained experience will be crucial this season. The Volunteers also bring in a couple of transfers that should make an impact this season. E.J. Anosike earned All-NEC honors the last two seasons at Sacred Heart. Anosike, a 6-6 forward, averaged 15.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals last season. Victor Bailey is a transfer from Oregon who sat out last season. Bailey played in 73 games at Oregon and averaged 7.4 points as a sophomore. Tennessee welcomes in a top-five recruiting class in the nation as well. The Volunteers bring in five-star prospects Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson along with top-100 recruit Corey Walker. Tennessee will have one of the best balances in the nation in terms of experience level and freshman talent. They still just won 17 games last season, so expectations should be a bit tempered, but the Volunteers comfortably look like an NCAA Tournament team.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.1 (289th in nation, 13th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.2 (39, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.2 (204, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.2 (45, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.0 (284, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.3 (281, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.0 (51, 5)
Rebound Margin: 1.1 (149, 9)
Assists Per Game: 14.5 (67, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (221, 9)
Madness 2021 NBA Draft Rankings:
#15 Jaden Springer
#19 Keon Johnson
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#16 Jaden Springer
#21 Keon Johnson
#72 Corey Walker