5. Years Vols had no NBA Draft picks
2010, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018
Players drafted those years: 0
Before we get into our rankings, we have to look back the years in which Tennessee basketball had no players taken in the NBA Draft. And despite a few loaded drafts, the transition in coaches created lots of turmoil for the Vols and iced them out many times.
However, the first draft they were shut out of was 2010. That one made little sense, as the Vols were coming off an Elite Eight under Bruce Pearl. JP Prince, Wayne Chism and Bobby Maze were all in that class. Maze had pro potential as a point guard, Chism had developed into a very good power forward, and Prince was a defensive specialist. One could’ve been a second rounder.
What really hurt, though, was the dismissal of Tyler Smith earlier in the year. Had that not happened, the Vols likely would have made themselves known in this draft. But that didn’t work out in the end. At that point, five years into his tenure, Pearl was the best coach in UT history but still had no draft picks.
The 2012 draft, following Cuonzo Martin’s first year, saw Cameron Tatum and Renaldo Woolridge leave. Neither was drafted, but Tatum probably could have gotten a shot as a 6’7″ guard who could shoot from the outside. In 2013, Kenny Hall was the only real contributor with pro potential, and he didn’t go. In both 2012 and 2013, the Vols missed the NCAA Tournament, so that hurt them.
It wasn’t surprising that the Vols had nobody taken in 2016, 2017 or 2018. The Vols had a losing record in 2015-2016. Armani Moore and Devon Baulkman were two major senior contributors, but neither had an NBA frame for their positions. Kevin Punter had the best chance as a combo guard. But again, there was a losing record.
Robert Hubbs III certainly had NBA potential coming after 2017. But he was a guard who didn’t have much of an outside shot, he was injury prone, and UT only finished .500. In 2018, despite an SEC co-championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, every starter returned the following year. So that was another obvious one.
Simply put, there were reasons for Tennessee basketball being iced out of the NBA Draft five of the six years it happened this decade. The 2010 draft was the only exception, but all the prospects were second round quality talent, and the best prospect was dismissed midway through the year.