Starter: John Fulkerson
Senior; 6’9″ 215 pounds; Hometown: Kingsport, Tenn.
It can’t be overstated how big of a deal John Fulkerson’s decision to return for a sixth year with Tennessee basketball was. Even better for him and the Vols, Rick Barnes’ efforts on the recruiting trail will allow him to move to power forward, which gives him a much better chance at being effective with his physical-finesse style of play in the SEC.
The beloved in-state post player who went to Christ School in North Carolina’s Buncombe County had a bit of a drop-off in his production last year, but the lack of an offseason to develop likely affect that. Moving to the four and having a full offseason could make him a dominant force down low for the Vols this year, and he’s a clear-cut starter.
Backup: Olivier Nkamhoua
Junior; 6’8″ 223 pounds; Hometown: Helsinki, Finland
Despite averaging just over seven and a half minutes a game last year, Olivier Nkamhoua is one of those versatile stretch fours who will provide value to the Vols this year. With Yves Pons gone, the graduate of Bishop Walsh School in Maryland’s Allegany County is likely to see his production is increase from averaging just under three points and over two rebounds the past two years.
Pons really exploded onto the scene his third year under Barnes, and Nkamhoua could do the same. The foreign talent who arrived at UT via Cumberland, Md. is now primed to become a full-time rotational player. He’ll spell Fulkerson when there’s a need for more perimeter play.