As if Tennessee basketball didn’t already have a loaded 2021 recruiting class with an elite post player reclassifying from 2022, Rick Barnes decided to add another guy who fits that mold. In this case, he added a local player who is more of a project but certainly has potential.
Handje Tamba, a three-star center across the board out of Knoxville Catholic High School, according to Travis Branham of GoVols247. A seven-footer who weighs in the range of 215 to 225 pounds, Tamba is a member of the 2022 class but will reclassify into 2021.
By reclassifying, Tamba is similar to five-star power forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, who committed to Tennessee basketball back in April. Those two join four-star center Jonas Aidoo to make for a dominant post-game in the Vols’ 2021 recruiting class.
Given how loaded Rocky Top is this year, Tamba isn’t likely to see a lot of action. We already mentioned Huntley-Hatfield and Aidoo, but John Fulkerson is also back for a sixth year of eligibility, and Olivier Nkamhoua has been a solid role player in the post for two years. Uros Plavsic is also still on the roster.
Simply put, the team is loaded in the post now. However, Tamba certainly helps for the future. After all, Fulkerson will be gone in a year, and Huntley-Hatfield is likely to leave early for the pros, leaving a couple of openings in 2022-2023.
Tamba, who has also played in the Bobby Maze Elite AAU program, is the perfect type of player to develop over time in Barnes’ system, which could make him a major force by his junior year. You can’t teach his size, and as a local kid, he will likely be committed to developing on Rocky Top. Here is a look at his highlight reel.
As you can see, Tamba is a true center. He plays under the basket, has a nice hook shot and is a solid defender. At the next level, he’ll either have to get bigger or develop a more finesse game, but the potential is clearly there.
Assuming Aidoo, Plavsic and Tamba all stay over the next two years, Tennessee basketball could be loaded with a size advantage in the future. If Barnes can develop these guys, the Vols could be impossible to stop in the paint very soon. Tamba’s commitment is a step toward helping them establish a serious identity and one that could make them a major force for years to come.