Rick Barnes confirmed the Tennessee basketball Volunteers freshman guard will be able to play.
In a sigh of relief for Tennessee basketball fans, an injury that could have been a major hit against their backcourt appears to not be a serious factor. UT will be at full strength when it returns to the court this week.
Jaden Springer will be available for the Vols when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks, Rick Barnes confirmed in his Tuesday press conference. He suffered an ankle injury in the Vols’ 71-63 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday and missed the second half.
Obviously, missing that second half proved costly given Tennessee basketball’s loss. Springer, UT’s top freshman scorer, has been listed as day-to-day since then. Here’s a snippet of what Barnes said about him.
“He didn’t work out yesterday but he was on the floor today and did pretty much what everybody else did.”
The highest-rated member of UT’s top five recruiting class, Springer was living up to his five-star rating pretty early on. He is already averaging 10.6 points per game while shooting an incredible 70 percent from the three-point line, 54.6 percent from the field and 74.1 percent from the free throw line.
After scoring only six points in the opener against the Colorado Buffaloes, Springer hit double figures in five of his next six games, including 21 points against Tennessee Tech. The only time he didn’t reach 10 points was when he scored nine against USC Upstate. That streak came to an end against Alabama, as he only scored three points before going out.
Still, it’s clear that Springer is a valuable offensive weapon. Keon Johnson, the other five-star, has proven himself to be an elite defensive specialist who can score in transition, but Springer brings the offensive firepower among the off-guards.
Along with Springer being ready to go, Barnes provided a few other updates, particularly about John Fulkerson. He talked about Fulkerson needing to be ready for teams to be more physical when facing him. Here’s a bit of what he said about Fulkerson’s physical condition.
“The thumb is there and I think it will take some time with that, but Fulky is a guy that needs to take care of his body. He has to do it. He has to work hard at keeping his weight up. We don’t want his weight to drop. He’s down a bit more than we want him to be, but he’s been around long enough that he needs to understand what all goes into this.”
The NCAA Tournament being moved entirely to Indiana was also a topic of conversation. With the Vols expecting to make a deep run in March, that’s obviously going to affect them. Barnes also gave his thoughts on that matter.
“I don’t think that anybody is surprised. If you’re going to pick one site to go to, you’d go to Indianapolis. If you took a poll of all Division I, Division II and Division III coaches that have been in coaching for a long time, that would be one of the top cities. If you said you had to pick a place to go, Indianapolis would be one of them because of the way things are laid out there.”
Josiah-Jordan James playing the four when Yves Pons gets in foul trouble, scouting Arkansas and playing Drew Pember in the first have of the Alabama game were all topics of conversation as well. You can see all of Barnes’ comments by clicking on the video at the top of this article.
Obviously, there are plenty of questions surrounding Tennessee basketball following that shocking loss to Alabama. They’re still a top 10 team, and a lot of factors went into that loss, but they have to prove it was a fluke on Wednesday.