Tennessee basketball has two players who are now paired up in the pros. Former Volunteers Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson are on the Philadelphia 76ers.
The two best players in the NBA to come out of Tennessee basketball in recent years have now joined forces to play on the same team. And it came after a crazy Sunday of free agency that nobody saw coming.
Early on, consensus was the Philadelphia 76ers would not be able to re-sign Tobias Harris. However, Harris signed a long-term deal with the franchise and wrote an article in ESPN Sunday detailing his commitment to Philly.
At 6’9″ 235 pounds, he’s a key player for them to retain since he can play small forward or power forward. His ability to score, rebound and stretch the floor from the outside are all very valuable skills, as he averaged 18 points and 8 rebound last year.
But now Harris, who played one year on Rocky Top for Bruce Pearl in 2010-2011, is about to be joined by a guy who played four years from 2011 to 2015 for Cuonzo Martin and Donnie Tyndall. And he’s another former Vol doing well in the pros.
Josh Richardson, according to reports, was traded from the Miami Heat to the Sixers for Jimmy Butler. Unlike Harris, who was a five-star top-notch recruit from the East Coast, Richardson was a three-star 6’6″ guard from Oklahoma who developed over four years. But he is now an elite scorer and the perfect addition to replace Butler.
For each of his first four years, Richardson’s scoring averages have gone up. He was at 6.6 points a game in 2015-2016, and this past year he was at 16.6 points per game. In addition, he can shoot over 35 percent from the three-point line and has a healthy level of athleticism.
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Simply put, Richardson is a great NBA guard. Combining him with Harris gives two totally different Tennessee basketball stars from different eras of this decade a chance to play together. Right now, they are the only UT stars who have proven much in the pros in recent years.
We expect that to change soon with Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone all being taken in the 2019 NBA Draft. But it’s pretty impressive that the Sixers, a favorite to win it all next year, are now built around two key UT players. Don’t count out the impact they can have together on the team next year.
Although Richardson is really limited to the two-guard spot, he is a complete player there and has shown an ability to continually develop the same way he did in college. So his complete game and Harris’s versatility could make them a great combo with the rest of the team, which obviously has a ton of talent.
Richardson and Harris would have played together had Harris stayed one year past his freshman campaign. But now, eight years later, the two are going to be paired together anyway. And they have a chance to do something really special while representing the Vols next year given how loaded the team is.