ESPN gave some love to the new Tennessee basketball Volunteers forward.
A big story of the offseason for Tennessee basketball, in addition to securing a top five recruiting class, has been the Vols adding the brother of two-time Lady Vol national champion to their roster. Rick Barnes picked up E.J. Anosike back in March.
Anosike, a 6’6″ 245-pound power forward, is a graduate transfer from the Sacred Heart Pioneers. On Tuesday, Jeff Borzello of ESPN listed him as the No. 15 ranked transfer player in the nation who will be eligible for the 2020-2021 season.
There were 50 players overall in his ranking, and he even gave a mention to a player who transferred away from Tennessee basketball in Jalen Johnson, who joined the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Here’s a bit of what Borzello said about Ansike.
Graduating in three years after averaging a double-double this past season: 15.7 points and 11.6 rebounds. Aggressive around the rim and draws fouls at a very high clip.
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That double-double average was no doubt a big reason Barnes and the Vols courted Anosike. Given his frame as wide rather than tall power forward, he’s also a perfect fit for Barnes, who proved his ability to develop such players with Grant Williams.
Last year, Anosike shot 72.8 percent from the free throw line, and he’s just over 28 percent from his career from the three-point line. If he could up those numbers to 75 percent and 30 percent, he could be an elite player in Barnes’ system.
In fact, Anosike could end up having a bigger role than expected. As of right now, Yves Pons and John Fulkerson make up the inside game for the Vols, and with Pons as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Fulkerson as a true center and the dominant scorer down the stretch of last season, neither is likely to give up their starting role.
However, Pons is going through the NBA Draft process, and there’s a chance he declares. If he does, Anosike could immediately be thrust into a starting role. Otherwise, however, he’ll likely be the scoring option in the front-court off the bench and provide a change of pace from Pons.
There is the chance that Barnes puts Pons, Anosike and Fulkerson out there together. After all, Pons’ style of play is similar to Admiral Schofield’s, and Barnes ran Schofield, Williams and Kyle Alexander on the floor together. So if Barnes wants to play big, that could be where he goes. Either way, though, Anosike will be a big deal for Tennessee basketball next year.