Nobody wants to take the “wait ‘till next year” approach. And truthfully — if Tennessee had Kyle Alexander available on that Saturday night against Loyola-Chicago, the whole Cinderella storyline of the 2018 NCAA Tournament likely shifts. But it wasn’t meant to be for Tennessee this season.
Since that loss, we’ve been looking forward to next season. Tennessee is likely to return everyone from that roster outside of reserve point guard James Daniel. The Vols finished the season inside the top 15 of the AP Poll, capturing a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Recognizing what is about to return, Sporting News has placed Tennessee as their No. 8 team in the nation in their way-too-early top 25 for next season.
Here’s what they had to say.
The Vols stunned pretty much everybody this season, and they return pretty much everyone next season, including SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams. When you return everyone from team that earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, that’s a top-10 team.
Tennessee has one scholarship open that they are actively trying to fill with another point guard. Outside of that, the roster seems set — barring a surprise transfer or two.
Admiral Schofield filed his paperwork with the NBA, but will not hire an agent. This will allow him to go through the draft process and return to Tennessee for his senior year. That’s the expected route for Schofield.
With Schofield, SEC player of the year Grant Williams and the rest of the starting five back for the Vols next year, a big season is expected. Those expectations may just be some of the highest in program history.
It will be interesting to see how this veteran squad deals with those expectations. This is the same group that was picked to finish 13th in the SEC this past season. Now they’re being picked 8th in a national poll. That’s truly going from the hunters to the hunted.
Don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready for November already.