Tennessee basketball is going to look a lot different next season

Tennessee basketball is projected to be a top-ten team next year but the lineup is going to look a lot different this Fall.
Dec 28, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Tennessee Volunteers forward Jonas Aidoo (0) and guard
Dec 28, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Tennessee Volunteers forward Jonas Aidoo (0) and guard / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

A lot is changing on Rocky Top with the Tennessee basketball program. The Vols have three starters graduating, and four more players have entered the transfer portal, including two playmakers. The most recent player to announce his departure is Jonas Aidoo.

Aidoo is weighing all of his options this offseason as he follows Bronny James' footsteps and declares for the NBA Draft while simultaneously entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. This comes after a few underwhelming performances against other big forwards and centers late in the season.

Most notably, Aidoo didn't see much playing time against Purdue after a rough start against Zach Edey. That could have left a bad taste in his mouth after Rick Barnes trusted freshman JP Estrella over the bigger, stronger, and more experienced Aidoo.

Ultimately, Estrella was the best option and Aidoo could see the writing on the wall if the coaching staff believes he's the best option moving forward next season. There's a lot that happens behind the scenes with recruiting, transfer portal, and players competing for playing time that we don't see, and that often leads to these transfer decisions.

With Aidoo in the portal, he joins Tobe Awaka, DJ Jefferson, and Freddie Dilione V as they look to move on from Rocky Top. Assuming all four players in the portal make the decision to leave Tennessee, we will see a very different Tennessee team next season.

The only returning starter is Zakai Zeigler, so Barnes will have to use the portal and current players on the roster to fill out a roster to compete in the SEC. Tennessee is already working in the portal, with plans to host Belmont guard Cade Tyson and Hofstra guard Darlinstone Dubar over the weekend.

While those would be welcomed additions to the roster and would help the Vols' shooting around the perimeter, the Vols will still need to address needs down low. One name that has been floating around a lot is Northern Colorado's Saint Thomas. The Bears' forward averaged 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists last season while shooting 47.2% from the field.

Whether the Vols go for Thomas or another forward to add to the lineup for next season, we will be watching a very different team next season. It's also not ideal to have four players in the transfer portal with the possibility of more joining them, but it's not time to panic.

5 forwards Tennessee recruited who are in the transfer portal. 5 forwards Tennessee recruited who are in the transfer portal. dark. Next

The Vols still have a strong lineup going into next season without the additions they will get through the transfer portal. Is it All-SEC? Probably not, but Barnes knows how to recruit and bring top talent to Knoxville from the portal. I expect him to do the same again this year and have the Vols ready to compete for another SEC title when conference play rolls around next season.