Starter: Josiah-Jordan James
Junior; 6’6″ 207 pounds; Hometown: Charleston, S.C.
Watch out for a potential superstar breakout year from Josiah-Jordan James. This day in age, it’s very rare to have a junior on your team who was once a five-star, but Tennessee basketball has exactly that in this graduate of Porter-Gaud School in South Carolina. James battled injuries his first year and was part of just a cluttered roster last year.
This year, three seasons in to develop in Rick Barnes’ system, he should be a star. As an athletic wing, James is a defensive specialist who can also move over to the point. He’ll be the guy to run the break for the Vols. At the same time, he’s shown flashes of being elite offensively. If that becomes a more consistent thing, James has All-American potential.
Backup: Jahmai Mashack
Freshman; 6’4″ 192 pounds; Hometown: Fontana, Calif.
One of Rick Barnes’ four-star commitments, Jahmai Mashack is listed as a guard on the roster, but he actually committed as a forward out of Etiwanda High School in Southern California’s San Bernardino County. It really depends on how you view the three in UT’s system.
Based on the roles of previous threes, those players are true small forwards, and Mashack, despite being 6’4″, will likely play that role. He’s got the wingspan to do it, and he’s one of the freshmen that will be in the rotation early, but of the six backcourt players we’ve named so far, he’ll be the last one in the rotation, as he needs to develop.