1. Yves Pons enters NBA Draft
Yes, the most impactful storyline for Tennessee basketball this offseason is a negative one, albeit an expected on. Neither of the one-and-dones was the biggest loss for the Vols. That rested with a senior we all knew would leave.
More from All for Tennessee
- How to Win a GUARANTEED $200 Bonus Betting Just $5 on the Vols vs. Florida!
- Tennessee Football at Florida: Five Keys to a Vols Victory
- Week 3 SEC Power Rankings: Did Tennessee Football’s Win Help At All?
- Week 3 AP Polls: Why Did Tennessee Football Drop in the Polls?
- Tennessee Football: Top Five Performers in 30-13 Win vs. Austin Peay
To be fair, without the COVID eligibility ruling, Yves Pons never would have been able to return anyway. But the four-star who came from France is one of Rick Barnes’ greatest development stories. Pons averaged only just over eight and a half points last year, but his scoring isn’t what made him such a loss.
At 6’6″ 215 pounds, Pons can play the three or the four, and his insane athleticism and versatility made him one of the top defenders in the SEC. Indeed, he averaged over two blocks a game the past two years and was an incredible interior defender when healthy.
Pons also developed into at least an efficient scorer, shooting 78.9 percent from the free throw line and 46.6 percent from the field last year. He took a step back with Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson there, but if necessary, he could have been a go-to scorer, and he could hit the three every now and then. Simply put, he did it all.
Replacing Pons is Tennessee basketball’s hardest task. When he declared on April 9, he left UT seemingly depleted in the post. Things have changed that since then, but given his versatility and his proven production, his departure is still the biggest storyline.