It’s not all that often that you get the chance to land the Big 12 Freshman of the Year heading into his sophomore season, but that’s exactly where Tennessee is at with Tyrese Hunter.
The 6-0 point guard averaged 11 points for Iowa State last season, adding 3.5 rebounds and nearly five assists. He helped lead the Cyclones back to the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Sweet 16 before ultimately falling to Miami. Hunter shot 39 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range as a freshman.
Hunter was a four-star prospect in the class of 2021, ranking 37th overall according to 247Sports. Just one year after signing with Iowa State, he’s looking for a new home — and the Volunteers are in the thick of the battle.
Tennessee landed in his top six on Monday, checking in alongside of Kansas, Gonzaga, Texas, Purdue and Louisville.
The Volunteers will now host Hunter on an official visit on Friday.
Tennessee filled one of its four openings last weekend when they landed Tyreke Key, a grad-transfer guard from Illinois State. Key has been a lights out three-point shooter in the past, but will need to prove that he can return to form after coming off of shoulder surgery.
Rick Barnes will also return Zakai Zeigler, a player that is very similar to Hunter. Santiago Vescovi is going through the NBA Draft process, but will likely return. Four-star point guard BJ Edwards will also join the roster, while Josiah-Jordan James, Justin Powell and Jahmai Mashack are expected to return.
Zeigler-Key-Vescovi-James-Powell-Edwards-Mashack would seemingly fill out Tennessee’s numbers in the backcourt, but then again, you’re never going to turn down a proven commodity like Hunter, who has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
The race here is crowded for Hunter, though. His top six includes five programs that were inside the AP top ten at one point in time last season. Rick Barnes and his staff get their shot to make their case this weekend in Knoxville, before Gonzaga makes their own to follow.