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Tennessee’s NBA Draft drought should end in 2019

Tennessee could have two players drafted next year.

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

It’s been three years since Josh Richardson went 40th overall to the Miami Heat in the 2015 NBA Draft. Since then, no other Tennessee player has been drafted. Before Richardson, it was Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes and Tobias Harris.

Tennessee’s NBA Draft dry spell can be linked directly to instability within the program, starting with the departure of Bruce Pearl, then Cuonzo Martin shortly after. They bottomed out under Donnie Tyndall — and really the first year under Rick Barnes. The program simply didn’t replace McRae, Richardson and Stokes. Those years after Martin’s departure were really, really dry.

But all of that is behind us.

Tennessee is back, both on the college basketball national scene and on the NBA Draft scene. The Vols will have two seniors next year, both of which could very well hear their names called on draft night in 2019.

Admiral Schofield and Kyle Alexander already have the attention of the NBA. Schofield took part in the 2018 NBA Draft process, working out for teams but withdrawing his name before the deadline.

The 6-5 wing likely fits as a shooting guard at the NBA level. Schofield has gotten better in each season in Knoxville, developing a reliable outside shot and becoming a true leader of the program. He’s a unique and tenacious player that teams are going to fall in love with.

Alexander has already appeared in a way too early 2019 mock draft. His 6-11 size and length will go a long way towards getting him to the league. Alexander’s defensive ability is his bread and butter, but adding to his offensive game would boost his stock. I’m interested to see what Barnes and his staff work with him on during the summer months. Adding a mid-range jumper to his game would really expand Alexander as an offensive threat.

There’s a pretty good shot that one — if not both — of these guys get his name called a year from now. But first, they’ve got some business to handle in Knoxville.