Remember that time when the knock on Rick Barnes was that he couldn’t recruit at a high level? That’s a distant (and hilarious) memory at this point. In the past year, Barnes has secured commitments from two five-star players and another highly-ranked four-star prospect. That’s three top 50 players — all while coming off of a 31-6 season with nothing but former three-star prospects.
Not bad, right?
Following that success, Barnes is turning Tennessee into a legitimate destination for elite prospects. Josiah James, Corey Walker and Keon Johnson have the ball rolling — five-star guard Jaden Springer may very well end up being next in line.
With the 2020 class looking stout, what about the 2021 group? No surprise — Tennessee is aiming high. The Volunteer staff is hard at work on that group, seeing several top targets this week. Here’s a quick rundown.
Five-star guard Kennedy Chandler
Busy day: Florida’s Mike White, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, assistants from Kentucky, Mizzou, and Tennessee, will be in today for five-star guard Kennedy Chandler, a source told @Stockrisers.— Jake (@jakeweingarten) September 18, 2019
The 6-1 point guard out of Memphis is the top player in the state of Tennessee in the class of 2021. Chandler, a five-star prospect, is the 19th ranked player in the class, according to 247 Sports.
Chandler’s recruitment is tough to nail down right now. In the past few months, he’s taken visits to Louisville, Kansas, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He picked up his Tennessee offer in May of this year.
Five-star wing Harrison Ingram
Memphis’ Penny Hardaway and an assistant from Tennessee will be in today for five-star junior Harrison Ingram, a source told @Stockrisers.— Jake (@jakeweingarten) September 17, 2019
The 6-7, 200 pound small forward is out of Dallas, currently ranking as the 16th rated player in the 2021 class. Ingram picked up his offer from Tennessee back in May of this year, following a visit in March. To this point, Ingram has only taken one official visit to Stanford.
Ingram is another prospect that’s tough to narrow down at this point with a number of schools still squarely in the mix.
Five-star power forward Paolo Banchero
Duke’s Jon Scheyer will be in today for five-star junior Paolo Banchero, a source told @Stockrisers; Tennessee’s Rick Barnes will be in tomorrow.— Jake (@jakeweingarten) September 17, 2019
Tennessee made Banchero’s top nine last week, joining Washington, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Georgetown, Memphis, Baylor and Gonzaga. The 6-9, 235 pound post player is the 4th ranked player in the class of 2021.
Banchero has an official visit to Tennessee scheduled for October 25th. 247’s crystal ball projections point towards Washington as the current favorite.
Tennessee has come a long way in basketball recruiting in a short amount of time. Keeping Rick Barnes around and away from UCLA might just end up being Phillip Fulmer’s biggest win as the athletics director at Tennessee — even if it simply came down to UCLA not being able to pay Barnes’ buyout.
The Volunteer basketball program is absolutely rolling on the recruiting trail, which is something I’m not sure we’ve ever been able to say.