I believe the Tennessee Basketball program will take a big step forward this year. It’s safe to say CBS Sports disagrees with me. They released their offseason power rankings today, putting the Vols 13th in the league. The writer, Matt Norlander, doesn’t offer much by way of an explanation either.
Tennessee lost senior leader Robert Hubbs, but added several key pieces to the puzzle as well. Standouts Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield return to the fold, as well as several proven SEC talents like Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bone and Jordan Bowden. Rick Barnes has assembled a really nice core of players and only added to that pool of talent this offseason.
Senior James Daniel III will likely be the leader of this squad, despite it being his first year. You are talking about a guy that’s led the NCAA in scoring before. Chris Darrington is another incoming transfer that should provide some upperclassman leadership.
Rick Barnes is likely to get back John Fulkerson, too — who flashed before going down last season. For the first time in a few seasons, the Vols are going to be able to go deep into their bench. Added size from Zach Kent and Derrick Walker can only help off the bench.
I’m not expecting Tennessee to go out and win the conference, but they aren’t 13th place bad either.