On the heels of its greatest recruiting class in school history, Tennessee basketball is naturally in a great position to have its greatest NBA Draft class in school history next year. Early signs point to that being a possibility.
Three Vols appeared in an early ranking of the top 100 NBA Draft prospects for 2022 by Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Kennedy Chandler came in at No. 13, Josiah-Jordan James came in at No. 37 and Justin Powell came in at No. 66.
Obviously, with just 60 picks, Powell is just outside of the realm of being drafted right now, but he’s right there. Having transferred to Tennessee basketball from the Auburn Tigers, he could see his stock rise with a full season healthy this year.
Chandler is an obvious one. The five-star point guard is expected to be a one-and-done freshman this year for Rick Barnes, and there’s a good chance he works his way into becoming a top 10 pick. Expectations are for him to start immediately.
There’s a chance, though, that James is the biggest star in this class. He was once a five-star combo guard who battled injuries at times the past couple of years. Now, fully healthy and with Keon Johnson gone, James is the star combo guard who could score, defend any position in the backcourt, play on the wing or run the point. He could potentially explode onto the scene.
A surprise absence was five-star power forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. Givony may have left him off because of the fact that he was originally in the 2022 recruiting class and reclassified for 2021, but he should still be draft eligible for 2022. That could make for four Vols going in the NBA Draft, which would be historically great.
What’s clear no matter what is that Tennessee basketball is loaded with talent this year. The Vols should be in great shape to make a deep run, and expectations are for Barnes to do just that. They have talent all over the place, and this draft ranking alone shows it.