2. 2011 – Tobias Harris
Players drafted: 1
Tobias Harris – Milwaukee Bucks via Charlotte Bobcats (Hornets); Round 1, pick 19
The 2011 NBA Draft saw fewer Tennessee basketball players than the 2014 NBA Draft. But we have to be fair here and note that the pick in this draft was a first-rounder, and that carries significantly more weight overall.
At the time, this was bittersweet news. The Vols ended their drought with no draft picks, which dated back to 2002. Bruce Pearl, after six years on the job, finally had a player taken in the draft. However, it only happened after he had been fired three months earlier due to NCAA violations.
Still, amidst all that, Harris was always supposed to be a one and done guy. He was a five-star recruit and a unique power forward who could handle the ball and play on the perimeter. His game was built for Big East ball, so the Vols got a steal with him.
As a result, it was no shock when he was taken in the first round after a year. But when it comes to NBA success, the 6’9″ 235-pound pick is now one of UT’s most consistent pro players ever. He’s been in the league for eight years and averaged over 15 points a game for his career, and playing small forward, he was a key part of the Philadelphia 76ers last year.
Harris could have been one of two elite players taken. Scotty Hopson was a five-star who committed to the Vols in 2008 and came out as a junior in 2011. He was an elite scorer and the perfect type of 6’5″ guard you want. However, nobody took him.
Hopson and Harris made for an elite duo that got the Vols out to a red-hot start in 2010-2011. They had national title talent. But the Pearl distractions wrecked the team down the stretch, and they may have wrecked Hopson’s draft chances. Still, Harris being taken puts this at No. 2.