It’s early December and Tennessee is squaring off against No. 1 Gonzaga in a neutral site contest in Phoenix. The 7th ranked Vols find themselves trailing late in a back and forth game, down three points with 2:18 to play. What was the plan for Rick Barnes and Tennessee in the final moments? On that day, it was simple — just get the ball to Admiral Schofield.
Tennessee’s senior leader made a habit out of getting hot late in games and that contest against Gonzaga was the best work of his career. Schofield drained a mid-range jumper to pull Tennessee to within a point with two minutes left, then drilled an NBA-range three to send the Vols into the lead.
One possession later, after Gonzaga had tied it up, Schofield nailed another three with 22 seconds left to seal the game for Tennessee. The Admiral had done it again, delivering for his Vols once more.
It’s just what he does.
As a recruit
Schofield wasn’t recruited by Rick Barnes. It was actually Donnie Tyndall who pulled Admiral to Knoxville. Just like Grant Williams, it wasn’t exactly a big time recruiting win either. Schofield was a three-star prospect who ranked as the 251st overall player in the class of 2015.
“Tennessee wasn’t even my first choice,” Schofield recalled before his final game in Knoxville. “Tennessee was my last choice on my list of five visits that I was going to take. I took Tennessee first and I wanted to go bottom up. West Virginia was my number one. I ended up coming (to Tennessee) and committing right away. I didn’t take any other visits.”
Admiral was an immediate contributor for the Vols, coming off the bench to log 19 minutes per game as a freshman. He played a similar role for Tennessee during his sophomore season before joining the starting five to begin his junior year.
Schofield was a model of consistency to start the year, playing the clear second-fiddle role to Grant Williams in the offense. However, as the season entered the second half of SEC play, we saw Admiral flip a switch that we hadn’t seen before. As Williams was banged up near the end of the year, Schofield picked up the slack and proved to everyone that he could be the guy in an offense.
Admiral poured in 20+ points in the three final regular season games, recharging Tennessee as they entered tournament season. Tennessee was ultimately upset by Loyola-Chicago in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Schofield’s senior season was a touch inconsistent as the 6-6 wing went through a couple of shooting slumps. But the flashes of dominance were there, as detailed above against Gonzaga, along with 25+ point performances against Memphis and LSU.
He ended up averaging 16.5 points per game, good for second on the team behind Williams. Schofield added 6.1 rebounds per game, while seeing his field goal percentage bump up to 47 percent.
Perhaps more important than anything he did on the court for the Vols, Schofield was the heart and soul of this basketball program. He and Grant Williams shared ownership of this team, but Admiral brought the fire. He took victory laps around the court on the road after a physical win at a hostile Memphis. He led the team in mocking the ‘gator chomp’ after a road win in Gainesville.
Admiral was that perfect blend of player and attitude. That and his 6-6, 240 pound frame — along with his name — made him one of the most memorable Tennessee basketball players of all time.
- Big-bodied guard who can get physical and rebound.
- Will offer some versatility within a lineup to play the 2 or 3 spot.
- Solid, proven perimeter defender.
- Has some low post defensive ability, thanks to his size.
- Shot 41 percent from three-point range in senior season, up from 30 percent as a freshman.
- Tireless worker who transformed himself from a three-star prospect to an NBA prospect.
- Alpha mentality and a natural born leader on the court.
- Lacks top-end athletic ability for the shooting guard position which limits his upside.
- Could stand to get to the basket more as a slasher.
- Already 22 years old.
- Stout frame offers unique evaluation for NBA teams — may be viewed as a ‘tweener’ by some.
- Never developed as a passer or consistent offensive creator in his four years.
Schofield has to be one of the more unique evaluations in this draft cycle. There’s likely a couple of schools of thought on Admiral as a prospect — one being that he’s a versatile guy who can do a touch of everything, the other being that he may not fit a true position and has limited upside due to his athletic ability. All of that can be true, but it’s tough to imagine Schofield not carving out a role at the next level.
His ability as a shooter sets him apart and offers instant production at the NBA level. While he’s likely never going to be a dynamic scorer as a pro, Schofield can at least offer a unique blend of shooting, defense and rebounding off the bench from day one.
Schofield’s ability to defend the 2-4 positions should have plenty of teams intrigued at the top of the second round. While he may be maxed out as an athlete, Admiral is ready to help a roster immediately in a number of different ways.