With the NBA Draft set for this week, the deadline for players to withdraw has passed. That means Tennessee basketball certainly won’t have Yves Pons, Jaden Springer or Keon Johnson back this year. Meanwhile, the Vols added a commitment this week who will reclassify as a member of their 2021 class.
Taking all this into account, their depth chart is set. A historically great top five recruiting class that has six commitments, including two five-stars, four-stars and three-stars, combined with the return of four players and the addition of a transfer, all of whom averaged over 25 minutes a game last year, leaves Rick Barnes with a loaded roster.
In addition to those 11 players, the Vols have two other scholarship players back plus four walk-ons, making for a deep rotation. How will Barnes manage all of this? Well, it’s time to break that down here with our Tennessee basketball starting lineup projection for the 2021-2022 season.
Starter: Kennedy Chandler
Freshman; 6’0″ 172 pounds; Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
The first and most highly touted commitment in the Vols’ 2021 recruiting class, Kennedy Chandler getting out of Shelby County was huge for Barnes. After playing at Briarcrest Christian Academy in Eads, Tenn., Chandler refined his game at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas this past year.
From Bel Aire, Kan. back to the state, Chandler will likely be a one-and-done star. This one year, though, he’ll likely take a starting job, and he figures to be a standout player with his talent. As an elite athlete, he’ll be able to do a lot of things for this team.
Backup: Santiago Vescovi
Junior; 6’3″ 188 pounds; Hometown: Montevideo, Uruguay
He’s been the point guard for the Vols the past year and a half, but Santiago Vescovi will likely move to Kennedy Chandler’s backup this year. However, that doesn’t mean his role with the team is going to decrease at all.
The product of the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia will be the Vols’ sixth man, as he’s the backup point guard and also going to be the scoring punch off the bench. Shooting 36.8 percent from three the past two years makes him the perfect threat to stretch the offense, and given how Tennessee basketball’s rotation will be, him being a backup won’t lessen his role.