Auburn transfer Justin Powell is a 6-6 guard with ball-handling ability and an eagle-eye shot from 3. Somebody pinch me because he seems like a perfect fit for Tennessee.
Powell was the third-highest rated player in Kentucky his senior year, but he was just a 3-star prospect and didn’t receive an offer from the Wildcats and has now landed with the Vols.
Now, hmmm. Are you having a bit of deja vu? Can you think of another Tennessee hooper who has a similar story?
My mind naturally to my favorite Vol, Chris Lofton. But, if you said Allan Houston, then hey, you’re right, too.
Powell played in just 10 games for Auburn last year as his season was cut short due to a concussion that caused his to miss the Tigers’ final 17 games. When Powell was healthy, though, he put together some pretty impressive games that showed off his array of skills. The Tigers were without fellow freshman guard Sharife Cooper to start the season, and Powell got considerable playing time as a fill-in point guard.
Tennessee had trouble finding reliable ball handlers not named Santiago Vescovi, and Powell’s ability to handle on-ball pressure and facilitate the offense gives the Vols another option behind Kennedy Chandler, Josiah Jordan-James and Vescovi.
I think Justin Powell's ability to handle the ball is an underrated aspect of his skill set.— RockyTopTalk (@RockyTopTalk) October 29, 2021
I like him as a secondary playmaker when paired with Kennedy or Santi in the backcourt. pic.twitter.com/uRRe9o2ZKd
Powell’s per-game averages reflect his versatility — 11.7 points, 4.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds — but if you look at his box scores, you see that he’s also got the ability to absolutely light up the scoreboard with barrages of 3s. He scored in double figures in four of his first six games, including back-to-back 26-points outbursts during which he nailed 11 of the 15 3s he attempted.
His 276 minutes last year might as well come tattooed with “sample size too small,” across them, as that’s just not enough evidence to make a prediction with a reasonably low margin for error. But still, Powell’s 44 percent from 3 and his film of it are certainly enough to get the staff and fans alike excited about his potential.
Last year, the Vols had just two players shoot better than 35 percent from long range, and one of those was Jaden Springer, who attempted fewer than two treys per game. Victor Bailey was supposed to be Tennessee’s premier deep threat, and he was at times, but he was just frustratingly inconsistent.
Something of note about Powell’s history — he’s done some traveling before ending up at Tennessee. He played two years of HS basketball at Trinity in Louisville, KY., then transferred to hoops powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida for a year, then transferred back to Kentucky’s North Odom HS. Obviously Auburn was his next and last destination before Knoxville. That many transfers seems like it could be a bit of a red flag, and so I did some digging and found a Locked On Auburn podcast where guest Charlie5 from the Auburn site “The Bunker,” had plenty to say about Powell’s nomadic nature of the past several years.
I’m not going to get into it, but here’s the link if you’re interested in Powell’s transfer from an Auburn perspective.
Regardless, there’s obviously no telling how good or not Powell will turn out as a Vol, but I’ve seen enough to be downright thrilled about his tenure here.