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E.J. Anosike brings exactly what Tennessee was missing last year

Sacred Heart v St John’s Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

In the college basketball landscape, most programs are often completed thanks to transfer players. All the mid-majors we’ve come to know and love have a tendency to pull junior college transfers up into the ranks of division I basketball. That’s what they subsist on and that’s often why we see some of those programs be competitive in March.

The Tennessee Volunteers, despite climbing on the recruiting trail, may still need a piece or two from outside the program in order to round out the roster and become the top competition in the SEC. With a need to be filled, head coach Rick Barnes went into the frosty northeast to pluck a need from Sacred Heart University, E.J. Anosike.

The Vols are shaping up to be formidable competition come the 2020-21 basketball season, but the team was deficient in certain areas. Over the course of last season, Tennessee wasn’t efficiently crashing the boards, a need that had to be addressed to compete for the SEC title. In 2020, Tennessee ranked 10th in rebounds per game in the conference, on both the defensive and offensive end. The squad averaged 34.5 rpg, sandwiched in between the Florida Gators and Missouri Tigers.

While Florida finished fourth in the conference, Missouri finished eighth. The other three teams below Tennessee’s output finished lower than Mizzou, except for Texas A&M (sixth). With that need in mind, coach Barnes was able to bring in the two-time All-NEC (Northeast Conference) forward, Anosike.

The highest achieving rebounder on the 2019-20 Vols was John Fulkerson, who pulled down 5.9 total rebounds per game, according to College Basketball Reference. Anosike, on the other hand, totaled 11.6 per game. At 6-7, 245 lbs., Anosike should be a formidable presence trying to crash the boards. What he might lack in height down low may be made up for with strength.

Of his new teammate, second year guard Santiago Vescovi recently told 247sports, “He is a unit. You cannot stop him. If he is going to the rim, you cannot stop him. I would rather just move to the side rather than stay in front of him. He is super strong. He is really good on crashing the glass and offensive rebounds.”

While the Vols’ offensive potency might be diminished with Anosike on the floor, his presence will enable the Vols a physical and strong style of play, bullying the opposition on defense and on the boards – a task that the team struggled with at times last season. Having Anosike to go along with the likes of Yves Pons, as well as the size of a player like Uros Plavsic, the Vols will be powerful down low.