As expected, Tennessee added a point guard this afternoon, picking up a commitment from Zakai Zeigler. The New York native was a member of the 2022 class, but will reclassify to the class of 2021 and join the team immediately.
Zeigler was an unknown ahead of his breakout performance at Peach Jam, where he officially arrived on the recruiting scene. He poured in 22 points, adding 10 assists and shooting 7-8 from three-point range. Three members of the Tennessee staff were in attendance for that game, resulting in an offer from the Volunteers. Minnesota and Boston College quickly followed.
Now, instead of returning to high school for his senior season, Zeigler will join Tennessee and immediately enter the battle for minutes behind five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler. Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, Jahmai Mashack, Victory Bailey Jr. and Justin Powell make up the rest of the Tennessee backcourt.
Zeigler was unranked by 247Sports before this week, but the publication now gives him a three-star ranking, placing him 231st in the country.
“Zakai is a great story—the type of kid who’s just built to work hard and beat the odds,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “He’s got that New York City guard presence. He’s tough, he understands how to run a team and he’s a winner. As a natural point guard, he can control the tempo of the game on both ends of the floor. He turned a lot of heads with his shooting and all-around play at the Peach Jam. And we love that he guards full-court and has shown the ability to really impact the game defensively.”
In total, Zeigler becomes the eight member of Tennessee’s 2021 class — a massive overhaul of a roster that largely disappointed last season. It now remains to be seen if Zeigler can push for playing time this season, or if Tennessee will use a redshirt on him and start developing for the future.