Kennedy Chandler is now gone to the NBA. Tennessee basketball also lost Victor Bailey Jr. and Justin Powell to transfer, leaving some questions at guard. However, the Vols have retooled the roster, with help from more wings even in the front court, to manage that.
When it comes to guard play, Rick Barnes returns probably the two most experience elite guards in the SEC, one of whom may be the most versatile backcourt player in the SEC. He returns an overachieving point guard and a backup with a lot of potential. Meanwhile, he’s added three elite newcomers, one via transfer.
Add in four walk-ons, and Tennessee basketball goes 11-deep at guard. What is their situation with all of that talent, though? As we get set to preview the backcourt, we’ll break that down here, looking at their returners, newcomers and questions. Let’s start with returning starters.
Experience at guard should carry the Tennessee basketball Volunteers to a lot of success.
- 6’3″ 192 pounds
- Montevideo, Uruguay
Probably the most efficient and most versatile backcourt player for Tennessee basketball, Santiago Vescovi averaged 13.3 points per game last year while shooting over 40 percent from three. It was a huge deal when he decided to return for his senior season on Rocky Top.
The product of the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia has experience playing point guard but thrived as a true shooting guard last year. He averaged over three assists and one and a half steals a game, so he brings a lot to the table, and he’ll likely be crucial once again.
- 6’6″ 224 pounds
- Charleston, S.C.
With Julian Phillips on the team, the Vols have two five-stars from South Carolina. Josiah-Jordan James is a rarity, though, as the Porter-Gaud School graduate is a former five-star entering his senior. He is an athletic and defensive specialist who does a lot of little things for the Vols.
James moved to the post last year, but with Phillips and Olivier Nkamhoua getting healthy, it’s likely he’ll move back to the wing. James averaged over 10 points and six rebounds last year. If his three-point shooting gets more consistent, he has All-American potential this year.