After a disappointing 2020-21 season, Tennessee has reloaded and is hoping to put that behind them. Rick Barnes brought in another elite recruiting class, headlined by a couple more five-star prospects. He’s hoping that a return to a normal season results in a more consistent effort from his team this year.
Five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler and five-star power forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield join a veteran core of John Fulkerson, Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi and Victor Bailey Jr. Auburn transfer sharpshooter Justin Powell will give Tennessee some more pop from deep, while four-star center Jonas Aidoo and four-star guard Jahmai Mashack will round out the depth.
It’s a totally remade team for Rick Barnes, who trimmed the fat so to speak at the bottom of his roster. It’s a team with a ton of upside, but also with plenty of unknowns entering the season.
Tennessee is a consensus top 25 team entering the season, and they’ve landed as a projected No. 4 seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest preseason bracketology run.
Kentucky (2), Arkansas (4), Alabama (4), Auburn (6), LSU (8) and Florida (9) each represented the SEC, with Mississippi State landing on the bubble, appearing in the first four out of the NCAA Tournament field.
Tennessee was ranked at No. 18 by Jeff Borzello in ESPN’s way-too-early preseason poll.
The Vols were eliminated by a white hot Oregon State team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. That game was the culmination of a season that fizzled on Tennessee, as the Vols went ice cold on the offensive end to grind their season to an abrupt halt.
Rick Barnes, now with another contract extension in hand, will try to get over that tournament hump once again with another roster filled with elite talent.