Zach Kent has stayed patient and waited his turn in the Tennessee basketball program. This was supposed to be the year that he stepped up and contributed on this team, but all of that has been put on hold for the time being.
Tennessee announced that Kent has “stepped away from the basketball program indefinitely” following their 76-41 win over Alabama State.
Kent was announced as inactive before the game began.
“It’s not disciplinary in nature at all, and he remains enrolled and has the full support of the program and the university,” a Tennessee spokesman said after the game.
The 6-11, 235 pound forward was expected to play in a reserve role for Tennessee this year. He did not take the floor against Washington, however.
Kent is a former three-star prospect who signed as a part of the 2017 class.
With Uros Plavsic being ruled ineligible after Tennessee lost four post players from last year’s team, Tennessee was already hurting for size on the inside. Kent’s absence will only hurt the Vols’ depth in the interior further.
Tennessee is starting John Fulkerson and Yves Pons in the frontcourt currently. Behind them are Olivier Nkamhoua and now Drew Pember, who returned from injury on Wednesday night against Alabama State.
That’s about it.
“We’ll have to piece it together,” Rick Barnes said of the frontcourt. “We still have four guys that work there on the front line now. You’ve got the two that we played tonight, Olivier and Drew, and if we had to ever put someone else there because of his natural strength and ability, it would have to be someone like Josiah James. He proved tonight that he can go rebound, and he can rebound the ball against anybody. Physically, he’s gifted, and he doesn’t yet understand how gifted he is with that body, but we’ll get him there.”
James added 13 boards on Wednesday, which lead Tennessee by a wide margin. While we haven’t seen his scoring ability come to fruition yet, his court vision and rebounding ability have certainly stood out.
Kent’s absence doesn’t cripple Tennessee on the surface, but if something were to happen to any of the top four bigs, the Vols would be in trouble. His situation doesn’t exactly sound final, however, so stay tuned there.
Also, keep in mind that Tennessee remains in a holding pattern with the Uros Plavsic situation. Tennessee is exploring every possible avenue to appeal the NCAA’s ruling, which stated that Plavsic had to sit out the full 2019-20 season.
Rick Barnes could use some good news on either front. Rolling with just four capable big men doesn’t sound like something that you can sustain for a full season.