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Vols taking NBA Draft Combine to new heights

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Keon Johnson and Yves Pons posted some eye-popping athletic measurements

2021 NBA Draft Combine Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

With a sprint and a leap, Keon Johnson broke a 20-year old record at the NBA Draft Combine.

Johnson’s max vertical leap took the internet by storm yesterday after the video of him recording a 48-inch jump went viral. The clip below has more than 700,000 plays since being posted late Wednesday evening.

Johnson eclipsed the previous record, set in 2001, by 2.5 inches. He also set a new NBA Draft Combine record with a 41.5-inch standing vertical leap. As if those figures aren’t enough to woo potential suitors. Johnson also posted the third-best 3/4-court sprint with a three-second time that was just .02 seconds slower than AJ Lawson’s first place jaunt.

Keon wasn’t the only Vol jumping out of the gym — Yves Pons slotted in just below Johnson in both the max vertical and standing vertical, recording 42.5-inch and 36-inch jumps respectively and placing third overall in those categories.

Both players repeatedly showed off their big ups in their Tennessee careers. Later in his career, after a position move to the post, Pons recorded 120 blocks and seemingly had some sky-walking, head-dodging-the-rim highlight every time he stepped on the floor. See below for a few favorites:

Again:

Another, but this time he didn’t miss the rim:

Though Keon was only here for a season, he, too, had plenty examples of his athletic prowess translating to in-game results. This one against Georgia made probably the most waves. “OH MY GOODNESS, KEON JOHNSON!”

This one against Vanderbilt shows his acceleration and burst along with the bunnies:

Johnson’s impressive showing at the combine likely cemented his early first-round draft selection. Most mock drafts have him slotted anywhere from eighth to fourteen, whereas Pons limited scoring acumen offsets his athleticism to some extent. Pons is probably looking at a late second-round selection or a post-draft free agent deal.

This is the second impressive showing for Tennessee players in recent combines. Former guard Jordan Bone graded out athletically near the top of the 2019 draft class with his 42.5-inch max vertical and 36-inch standing vertical leaps that placed him categorically first and tied for second, respectively. He also ranked first in the lane-agility drill, first in the shuttle run and fourth in the 3/4-court sprint. Fellow Vol Grant Williams ranked first in the max bench drill with 20 reps.

So far, the outstanding combine workouts hasn’t translated to much on-court success for Bone and Williams. Bone has split time between the G-League and the NBA, while Williams is a rotation player averaging around 16 minutes per-game in two seasons with the Celtics after they took him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Let’s hope that trend doesn’t hold true for Johnson and Pons.