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How much can Kyle Alexander improve in 2018?

The Vols will need a big contribution from their big man

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Wright State vs Tennessee
Kyle Alexander has all the skills to succeed in the SEC
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he doesn’t dominate the stat sheet, senior forward Kyle Alexander is a major key to the Tennessee Vols’ basketball program.

He guards the rim, is a presence down low, and can affect an opponents’ offensive flow with his size. If you need proof, just take a look at the Vols’ last NCAA tournament loss against Loyola-Chicago and it’s pretty obvious that Alexander’s injury was a difference-maker.

So what can Alexander do in 2018 to make himself an even bigger piece of this team? His head coach, Rick Barnes, let the media in on what he thinks about his development.

“I think that Kyle Alexander has really improved since he’s been here. But I think he could be so much better,” Barnes informed reporters last week. Potential has always been the word that pops up when discussing Alexander, so it’s no surprise Barnes believes that the sky is the limit.

Any type of improvement from Alexander in 2018 will help this team win games, there’s no doubt about that. The starting point should be physicality. For Alexander’s size, it should almost be second nature that he become a force inside.

The good news for the Vols is that he has shown significant improvement every year. The table below is a good reference of his progress.

Going off of his yearly stats, Alexander’s point per game total should increase to around 10 points per game, his blocks per game should increase to about 2.29 per game, and he should average around 3.2 offensive rebounds and 4.3 defensive rebounds per game.

If the Vols can get a double-digit scoring effort from Alexander every night, then that would mean opponents would then have to focus on the interior of Tennessee’s offense, which would open the outside and intermediate areas for the other players.

That is simple basketball, sure, but the Vols have the right players who could take advantage of a true inside presence like Alexander - if he continues to develop on the pace that he is currently on.

And kudos to Barnes for developing the once-raw player into a possible NBA draft pick.

This could be a big year for Alexander if everything breaks right, which would mean a big year for the Vols.

It’s a win-win scenario that helps build more steam as we approach opening day of the 2018 season.