Tennessee basketball playmaker enters the transfer portal

Tennessee basketball's Tobe Awaka enters the transfer portal, making him the third player to enter the portal from last year's team.
Tennessee v Purdue
Tennessee v Purdue / Mike Mulholland/GettyImages

Tennessee basketball's Tobe Awaka entered the transfer portal, making him the third player from last year's team to do so. Awaka developed into a playmaker and defensive threat for the Vols. He helped lock down the paint and helped Tennessee get to the Elite Eight. 

The Vols forward averaged 5.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season. While that's not All-American stats, he made a big impact on the defensive end of the court, where stats don't always make it to the final stat line. 

The sophomore forward capped off a rough season with an impressive run towards the end of the regular season and in the NCAA Tournament. He made the announcement on Instagram, and while it is possible he could return for next season, it seemed like his message to Tennessee fans was a goodbye. 

"Dear Vol nation, the past two years have been some of the most influential of my life," Awaka said on social media. "The relationships gained, and the experience I've had will be forever life-changing. I want to start by thanking Coach Barnes, all of the assistant coaches, and the rest of the basketball staff for welcoming me with open arms and supporting me during my time at Rocky Top. I also want to thank my teammates — my brothers for life.

"It was a pleasure getting to know and going to war with you all these past two years. Last but not least, thank you Vol nation for being one of the best fan bases in the country. Your hospitality and support has truly been a blessing."

Losing Awaka could be a big loss for the Vols. He's not only a physical forward who has what it takes to play efficient defense in the best conference, but he's also a starter for Tennessee next year and can be one of the best players on the court if he continues to progress and develop. 

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Freddie Dilione and D.J. Jefferson are the other two Vols who have entered the transfer portal so far. It's expected that some players enter the portal every year as they look for more playing time, but Awaka's entry is a shock to many across Vol Nation. There could be a personal reason tied to the decision, but regardless, I hope he finds success wherever he decides to go.