Tennessee basketball: Updated 247Sports recruiting rankings a testament to Rick Barnes’ evaluation process

Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes calls during a game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.Kns Tennessee Greensboro Basketball
Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes calls during a game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.Kns Tennessee Greensboro Basketball /

It always seemed like he was a great developer of talent who wasn’t as good mixing in one-and-dones and just recruited a collection of the best players. However, Tennessee basketball head coach Rick Barnes pays attention to so much more detail than that on the trail.

If you want to know how Barnes can continue landing top-notch recruits, it’s actually pretty simple. He identifies them early. Never has that been more true than it was today when 247Sports updated their recruiting ratings for players.

Most notably among those ratings was the jump in the rankings for Tennessee basketball’s most recent commitment, Freddie Dilione. A four-star combo guard across the board, Dilione committed to the Vols’ 2023 recruiting class less than a week ago.

Initially a top 150 player, Dilione shot up 45 spots, from No. 69 to No. 24, in the 247Sports updated recruiting ratings, according to Grant Ramey of GoVols247. This was reportedly the result of a very successful summer, and he and four-star forward Cade Phillips have already generated hype for next year.

However, Dilione wasn’t the only player Tennessee basketball is targeting who saw a jump in his ratings. In another article by Ramey, three other targets of Barnes and co. moved up a combined 94 spots in these updated rankings.

Davin Cosby, a three-star shooting guard on Rivals and 247Sports and a four-star on On3 who is not yet rated on ESPN, moved up from No. 140 to No. 109 in the rankings. He could be flirting with a more unanimous four-star rating soon enough. J.P. Estrella, a four-star power forward across the board, jumped 10 spots.

Meanwhile, Silas Demary Jr., a four-star combo guard everywhere except for Rivals, where he is a three-star, jumped more spots than anybody from No. 112 to No. 59. Again, he could end up being a four-star across the board soon enough too.

These jumps didn’t change the star rating for anybody, but again, they speak to how good Barnes is at evaluating talent early. This is a huge advantage Tennessee basketball is able to enjoy, and it’s almost as big a deal as Barnes’ ability to develop talent.

Look back on Barnes’ tenure with UT, and it’s clear this has been a recurring theme. When he was trying to establish the program, he found unheralded three-stars who would be All-Americans and future pro prospects in guys like Grant Williams and Jordan Bone.

Then Barnes was able to bring in high-profile talent from overseas, most notably Yves Pons. Finally, he’s also bringing in five-star guards because of the profile he brings as a coach, but that often is due to him evaluating those potential five-stars early.

Next. Projecting Vols' 2022-23 starting lineup. dark

We haven’t paid enough attention to the benefit this has provided Tennessee basketball in the Barnes era. This spike in ratings is just a microcosm of what Barnes has been able to do in his seven years with the Vols, and it’s worthy of bringing up.