5 Tennessee basketball players that won't be back next season

Tennessee basketball is losing some valuable players to the NBA Draft, graduation, and the transfer portal.
Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler (5), guard Freddie Dilione V (1) and Tguard Josiah-Jordan James (30)
Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler (5), guard Freddie Dilione V (1) and Tguard Josiah-Jordan James (30) / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA

This season, Tennessee basketball made an Elite run to the regional final in the NCAA Tournament. For the second time in program history, the Vols advanced to the Elite Eight, but their luck ran out with their loss to Purdue.

The Vols' historic season comes at a cost, though, as Tennesee will see some valuable members of their run leave the program. Whether it be the NBA Draft, graduation, or the transfer portal, the Vols are losing starters and role players this offseason.

Dalton Knecht is leaving due to graduation and will head to the NBA Draft. The most notable Vol on his way out earned SEC Player of the Year honors this season and is a finalist for the Wooden Award. He came to Tennessee from Northern Colorado, averaging 21.7 points, 4.91 rebounds, and 1.81 assists while shooting 45.8% from the field.

Santiago Vescovi is also graduating after five seasons as a guard at Tennessee. He had a down season compared to previous years, but part of the reason for that was increased production from Knecht and others. He averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in his career on Rocky Top. He also helped without the ball in his hand with his insanely high basketball IQ.

Another super-senior graduating is Josiah-Jordan James. He also spent five years in Knoxville. James was a leader in multiple different ways for the Vols throughout his time on Rocky Top, from putting in the work on the floor to showing recruits around campus.

I'd be remisced if I didn't include the glue guy, Colin Coyne, among all glue guys on this list. He is a favorite in the Vol locker room, although he didn't get much playing time throughout his career in Tennessee. Just look at how excited the entire team was that Coyne was able to make a buzzer-beater against Lenoir-Rhyne.

The most recent Vol to announce his departure is Freddie Dilione V. He was a member of the 2022 recruiting class with Julian Phillips and Tobe Awaka. That leaves only Awaka and DJ Jefferson as the only players still on the roster from that class, with Dilione entering the portal.

While he didn't make a huge impact during his time on Rocky Top, that doesn't mean he won't make an impact in the future wherever he goes. He has the potential to be a really good college basketball player, but understandably, not everyone wants to wait a couple of years on the bench.

According to Brent Hubbs, the four-star prospect was frustrated with his playing situation this season. Dilione came in expecting that James and Vescovi would not return and didn't expect Knecht to play such a huge role in the Vols' success this year. James and Vescovi did come back, and Knecht was the best player on the court most nights, which limited Dilione's playing time.

Tennessee has the rest of April to fill in any gaps they may have through the transfer portal. This year's portal will end on May 1, so Rick Barnes and the coaching staff will have to work to keep their players and add playmakers for next season before the window closes.