Tennessee basketball: Vols most likely to leave early in 2021

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Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

With Yves Pons back, which Tennessee basketball Volunteers could enter the 2021 NBA Draft early?

Excitement went up another level surrounding Tennessee basketball heading into 2020-2021 with Yves Pons’ announcement that he is returning to the Vols for his senior season. Rick Barnes has a ton of talent to work with now when you consider who is back and his top five recruiting class that is coming in.

However, the Vols likely won’t be so lucky next year in terms of returning every underclassmen. There will be three players on the team who were five-star recruits this year, two freshmen and one sophomore.

On top of that, Tennessee basketball has a collection of proven guys who could take a major step forward. What does that mean for the Vols, particularly if they have a memorable season this year as is expected?

In this post, we’re going to rank all the scholarship underclassmen by likelihood of them leaving early for the NBA Draft next year. Obviously, the seniors won’t be a part of this discussion. Pons, transfer power forward E.J. Anosike and fifth-year senior John Fulkerson may all end up being the best players on the team, but their eligibility runs out after this year anyway.

We are also leaving walk-ons the list. That includes Brock Jancek, Isaiah Sulack and true freshman Cole Morris and Kent Gilbert. Although Jancek did play some last year, none of these guys are likely to see much action, and as non-scholarship players, they are 100 percent certain to not leave early for the pros.

Finally, Malachi Wideman, another four-star commitment, won’t make the list. That’s because he is primarily a football prospect, which is where his scholarship is, and basketball is something he just may double up on. He’s not even listed on the roster yet, and given his focus elsewhere, he certainly won’t do enough to be an early draft pick.

That leaves 10 players who will still have years of eligibility left after this season and are also on scholarship. We will break down all of their chances of leaving early for the draft, and yes, we’ll even be looking at the most outside shots. Part of this is based on their talent, but another part is actually based on how much they’ll actually get to play this year.

After all, the team is loaded. Barnes could surprisingly have all of his underclassmen back next year depending on how he approaches the group. Anyway, these are how Tennessee basketball’s 10 scholarship underclassmen rank by likelihood of leaving early for the 2021 NBA Draft.

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