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And now we wait on Kennedy Chandler’s NBA decision

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The wounds are fresh, and the last thing anyone wants to talk about is a looming life-changing decision, but everyone knew the question was coming — Kennedy Chandler included.

Tennessee’s freshman point guard, a former five-star prospect, has been thought of as a one-and-done prospect since he arrived in Knoxville. He did nothing but back that up all season long, helping to lead Tennessee to an SEC Tournament title last weekend.

Now, after an abrupt exit from the NCAA Tournament, decision time is coming. Chandler was asked about his NBA decision directly after the game.

His teammate stepped in and answered for him.

“With all due respect, he won’t be answering any questions about his future today,” Josiah-Jordan James said.

Chandler was a top 15 prospect in his class, oozing with athletic ability. His elite wingspan makes up for his lack of size, and a developed three-point shot will only improve his stock going forward.

The Memphis native averaged 13.9 points per game this season, putting up 4.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds to go with that. He shot 38 percent from three-point range, after that was described as a weakness for Chandler coming out of high school.

“He never, ever made it about him,” Rick Barnes said of Chandler after the loss to Michigan. “I don’t think he ever walked in acting like I’m a one and done player. I don’t think that at all. He came in wanting to win. I think if you would — you probably saw his emotion. It was much more than that in the locker room, because this is a group of guys that are extremely close. They really have bonded in a way that doesn’t often happen anymore. But he got so much better, and I think so much of that had to do with his teammates.”

As usual, players can declare for the NBA Draft and still return to school if they choose. This allows players to go through the process and receive feedback from pro teams. As long as players don’t sign an agent, they can still opt to return to school. The deadline for that decision is June 13th.

SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell has Chandler going 12th overall to the Washington Wizards. If Chandler can go that high, he’s gone. However, others like ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, have Chandler going in the late first round. His NBA evaluation will be fascinating, considering his 6-foot frame.

Obviously, Chandler’s decision will shape Tennessee’s offseason. The good news is that Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler will be back and are more than capable of leading the offensive charge. Tennessee will also add local four-star point guard prospect BJ Edwards into the mix.