Tennessee basketball: Three Vols ranked among top 80 newcomers

Webb School basketball player Keon Johnson at his school gym in Bell Buckle, Tenn. on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.Sem 5449
Webb School basketball player Keon Johnson at his school gym in Bell Buckle, Tenn. on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.Sem 5449 /

One transfer and two freshmen are the Tennessee basketball Volunteers newcomers.

A top five recruiting class with two five-stars, a four-star and another four-star who primarily plays football contributes to lots of the hype behind Tennessee basketball this year. Adding two transfers, one a graduate transfer and another who redshirted last year, further helps that.

Of those six players, three are being recognized in Jeff Borzello of ESPN’s top 80 impact newcomers. These look at the freshmen and transfers who are most likely to be able to lead teams for the 2020-2021 season.

Freshman Keon Johnson, one of Tennessee basketball’s five-stars, led the way at No. 14. Graduate transfer E.J. Anosike, who came from the Sacred Heart Pioneers, came in at No. 54. The other five-star freshman, Jaden Springer, came in at No. 63. Here’s what Borzello wrote about each of them.

Keon Johnson

"The Volunteers have a number of impact newcomers, but there’s strong early buzz surrounding Johnson. He’s an elite-level athlete, but showed a lot more as his high school career progressed."

E.J. Anosike

"Anosike was a double-double machine at Sacred Heart last season, averaging 15.7 points and 11.6 rebounds, and he could start down low for the Volunteers right away."

Jaden Springer

"Springer improved his point guard ability as his high school career progressed, but also can play off the ball. Strong-bodied, physical scorer who likes to get to the rim."

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Johnson is a two-guard who stands at 6’5″ 186 pounds. He was a top 20 prospect on Rivals and 247Sports but just a top 30 prospect on ESPN. Still, he received five-star status across the board and is a unanimous top 10 guard.

Anosike, who stands at 6’7″ 245 pounds, is the brother of two-time Lady Vols national champion Nicky Anosike and averaged a double-double last year with 15.7 points and 11.6 rebounds. As a sophomore, he shot 35.8 percent from three, 51.8 percent from the field and 75.9 percent from the foul line while averaging over 14 points, proving his efficiency.

Then there’s Springer, who stands at 6’4″ 204 pounds. He is a combo guard who was ranked just ahead of Johnson on both Rivals and 247Sports and significantly ahead of Johnson on ESPN. Obviously, he’s another five-star across the board.

All of these guys are likely to be elite impact players, but combining them with the return of Yves Pons, John Fulkerson, Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James is what generates so much hype behind Rick Barnes’ program. There will be lots of competition to start with all of this talent.

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The other newcomers for Tennessee basketball who weren’t named include Oregon Ducks transfer Victor Bailey Jr., who actually transferred last year but took a redshirt, and four-star forward Corey Walker Jr., who stands at 6’8″ 219 pounds. Malachi Wideman, a four-star 6’4″ 200-pound receiver with the football program, is also a four-star basketball signee at forward.