You never want to look too far ahead, but the 2020 season could be a special one for the men’s basketball program.
Rick Barnes has been slaying it in terms of recruiting over the offseason and the results are showing. It’s still early, but after Keon Johnson’s commitment, Barnes’ 2020 class currently sits at sixth in the nation, according to the 247 Sports Composite Rankings. There are still plenty of other names that could be involved later on — Jaden Springer, for one — which is obviously great news for the program.
But how much higher can the program actually go in terms of climbing the recruiting-rankings ladder? According to Dan McDonald of rivals.com, the Vols have a legit shot of reaching the top of the mountain.
McDonald’s reasoning is solid:
Rick Barnes has done a terrific job building Tennessee back into a national power and has the Volunteers right behind Duke at No. 2. With the recent addition of five-star shooting guard Keon Johnson (No. 17), to go along with five-star forward Corey Walker (No. 24), this class has real staying power near the top of the rankings. Five-star guard Jaden Springer (No. 12) is another five-star who could end up in Knoxville and the Volunteers are also right there for four-star big men P.J. Hall (No. 67) and Dylan Cardwell (No. 115). Keep an eye on how Tennessee closes here as the Vols could be a dark horse for No. 1 overall.
No. 1, eh? Sounds pretty good, right?
To beat out traditional bluebloods such as Duke and Kentucky — the first and third-ranked teams in the 2020 cycle — would be a major accomplishment for Barnes and the Tennessee program. Adding Springer or any other five-star recruit to the fold would mark the first time that the Vols have ever signed three five-star players in the same cycle during the modern recruiting era.
Barnes has been able to pull in top recruits before (see Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and others), so this isn’t new territory for him. When you combine the talent these kids have to offer with Barnes’ ability to develop players, it’s hard not to get excited for what’s in store.