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Rick Barnes still expecting Admiral Schofield to return

Good news for Tennessee fans.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Wright State vs Tennessee Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The deadline for prospects who haven’t signed an agent to withdraw their name from the 2018 NBA Draft is a week away, but Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes doesn’t seem like he’s nervous about Admiral Schofield’s upcoming decision.

In speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Barnes said that Schofield’s plan was always to return to Tennessee for his senior season. It doesn’t sound like anything has changed on that front.

“He’s told us from day one that his plans are always to come back to college,” Barnes told reporters at Tennessee’s Big Orange Caravan stop in Atlanta. “That’s why this system is great. It’s there for guys to go out, because a year from now, it’s for keeps. The experience that he has garnered right now, not only will help him, but I think it’ll help our whole team because he’s going to share what he’s gone through. He’s learned a lot with it.”

Schofield declared for the NBA Draft at the end of March. He’s working out and interviewing with NBA teams like the Nuggets, Hornets, Bucks, Thunder and Nets. Getting a trial run at this process could pay dividends a year from now.

“The fact that he’s been able to go through and work out with other teams and see how different people do different things — a year from now he’s going to be put in the same situation, probably more so. So this has just been a great experience for him.”

Assuming Schofield does make it official and returns to Knoxville, he will be a key cog in what could be a top team in college basketball next year. Tennessee loses just two role players from last year’s roster, which churned out a 26-9 record and a regular season SEC title.

With Grant Williams, Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Kyle Alexander and the rest of the crew coming back to surround Schofield, Tennessee has their sights set on big things for the 2018-19 season. We have already seen them appear in the top five of some recent preseason top 25 polls.

Schofield and the rest of the early entrants in the NBA Draft have until May 30th to withdraw their name.