Tennessee basketball is playing with the big boys.
If you didn’t take notice in the 2020 recruiting class where they signed two 5-stars in Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, then you should take notice now. 5-star point guard Kennedy Chandler committed to the Volunteers on Friday afternoon.
Per the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Chandler is the 11th ranked prospect in the 2021 class. He’s the top-rated point guard in the class.
Chandler hails from Memphis, but moved to Kansas for his senior season. Despite the proximity to Tennessee’s in-state rival, it was not just the Memphis Tigers that they had to fend off. Two other main schools involved were Duke and Kentucky. In fact, Chandler was favored to go to Duke for months. That changed very quickly.
Chandler reminds me a lot of Kyrie Irving. His handles are pretty much second-to-none, and he routinely slices through the middle of a defense without any trouble controlling the ball. There’s clips where defenders have good position to try and take a swipe, but Chandler is able to avoid the turnover.
Watching him attack the rim is some of the most enjoyable basketball footage you’ll see for a while. Chandler has no fear and no problem putting up a shot against anyone. He has an instinctive ability to determine whether he should follow through or put up a shot before he gets any closer. Despite his smaller stature (his profile says he’s 6-foot-1), Chandler rarely finds a defender able to block his shot. He just seems quicker than everyone else on the court.
As an added perk, Chandler’s assist ability looks promising. He’s never so aggressive that he gets tunnel vision, and his highlights show a lot of exciting passes that point to him being an all-around offensive juggernaut.
The only knock would be his size. Chandler can make a living off being aggressive on defense and coming up with steals or forcing bad passes, but he’s simply too small to be very effective against bigger opponents.
Being completely honest here? Chandler might even be better than both of the highly ranked 5-stars Tennessee got in the last cycle. There’s traits you can’t teach, and Chandler’s feel for the offensive part of the game looks almost unstoppable. The only thing he might need to really work on is the 3-point shooting...but he already has a good form and knocks them down at a decent clip. Could he be a one-and-done? It sure looks possible.