Rick Barnes just doesn’t stop adding talent. Tennessee basketball already had two elite prospects committed for 2023, and now the Vols have picked up a third. With this one, they’re not likely to have any trouble scoring in the paint in the near future.
New England prospect J.P. Estrella, a four-star center across the board, has now committed to Rocky Top. A product of Portland, Maine, Estrella attends school in New Hampshire. According to Grant Ramey of GoVols247, Estrella was 6’3″ as a freshman in high school.
Now, the student of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., stands at 6’11” 210 pounds, bringing a ton of length to Rocky Top, which they haven’t recruited much of at a high level recently. He announced his commitment to Tennessee basketball Friday live on 247Sports.
It’s hard to overlook what the Vols are building in the post for their 2023 class. Estrella joins Alabama power forward Cade Phillips, who is also a four-star across the board and stands at 6’9″ 210 pounds. Both of those guys are building blocks for Barnes in the future down low.
However, joining them is Tobe Awaka, who committed and reclassified into this class but is a three-star standing at 6’8″ 242 pounds. These three are the perfect type of post players for Barnes to coach, as they have talent, but they aren’t one-and-done prospects, so Barnes can develop them to be lethal.
Of course, the standout post players this year are Olivier Nkamhoua, Uros Plavsic and Jonas Aidoo. Plavsic is the one seven-footer on the team, Nkamhoua was the starting stretch-four last year, and Aidoo was a fringe five-star in 2021.
All three players are expected to have a major impact, and there’s a chance all of them return in 2023, which would truly make Tennessee basketball loaded in the post. However, even if two of them return, that would be a huge deal for the Vols.
By 2024-2025, Rocky Top could still have Aidoo on the roster, and with these three other guys, Barnes would have a dominant inside game. Estrella is a perfect fit for that given his skills set. Here is a look at his highlight reel.
As you can see, Estrella has a great amount of finesse to his game, being able to stretch the floor with a three-point shot and developing a solid hook shot. Probably being 6’3″ originally helped that, but he also has a solid amount of aggression as well, evidenced by his ability to rebound.
That should all be a huge asset for Tennessee basketball going forward. When you consider that they also have four-start combo guard Freddie Dilione committed for 2023, it’s clear that barnes has a collection of talent coming in that fits him perfectly. They are all borderline elite players who won’t leave immediately, so they could be scary once Barnes develops them.