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Best Case/Worst Case: What will Tennessee basketball look like next year?

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A look ahead.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason will be an interesting one for the Tennessee basketball program. A couple of NBA Draft decisions will dramatically alter the trajectory of this team. 2019-20 could be another huge year if Grant Williams and Jordan Bone choose to play their senior seasons. If they leave, it could be a situation where Rick Barnes and his staff have to hit the grad-transfer market pretty hard to make things work.

To start, let’s think positively and look at what could be another loaded roster.

Best Case Scenario

Starters

G — Jordan Bone

G — Lamonte Turner

G — Jordan Bowden

F — Grant Williams

F — John Fulkerson

Key Reserves

G — Josiah James

Wing — Yves Pons

F — Derrick Walker

G — Jalen Johnson

F — D.J. Burns

F — Zach Kent

First off, my starting five above is a bit of a guess. Five-star freshman Josiah James could easily be a starter on this team, especially with the success that Jordan Bowden had coming off of the bench this season. Similarly, Fulkerson carved out a nice role off the bench. He’s probably the favorite to start for now, assuming Tennessee doesn’t add a reinforcement grad transfer.

In this scenario, Tennessee would have decent depth, assuming Jalen Johnson can take a little bit of a step forward. Yves Pons is going to have to find a little more juice on the offensive end, while one of Derrick Walker, D.J. Burns or Zach Kent will have to step up to be the first big off the bench.

There are plenty of options here for Tennessee to make another run at an SEC title and potentially a deeper tournament run next March.

Now for the not so bright side.

Worst Case Scenario

Starters

G — Lamonte Turner

G — Jordan Bowden

G — Josiah James

F — John Fulkerson

F — Derrick Walker

Key Reserves

Wing — Yves Pons

G — Jalen Johnson

F — D.J. Burns

F — Zach Kent

(Likely a grad-transfer or two)

This scenario has more unknowns, especially in the frontcourt. Replacing Kyle Alexander and Grant Williams would be quite literally an impossible task for what Tennessee has on the roster right now. John Fulkerson has had his moments, but he’s lacked the consistency to be relied upon game in and game out. Derrick Walker has yet to even carve out a role in the rotation.

This is a situation where you would definitely see the Tennessee staff go after a grad-transfer big, likely along with a point guard. Tennessee just wouldn’t have the depth needed if Williams and Bone opted for the NBA. Seniors Bowden and Turner would lead the Vols, but this frontcourt simply wouldn’t be ready for SEC play.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft is April 21st. However, as long as you don’t sign an agent, you can withdraw your name and return to school. You should be prepared for both Grant Williams and Jordan Bone to at least test the waters. We’ll all be waiting on pins and needles until May 29th, which is the deadline to withdraw.