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Josiah-Jordan James declares for 2022 NBA Draft, maintains college eligibility

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NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 19 Div I Men’s Championship - Second Round - Michigan v Tennessee Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a breakout junior season at Tennessee, Josiah-Jordan James will test the NBA Draft waters. This was an expected move, per Rick Barnes’ comments early in the offseason.

James never made a formal announcement, but his name appeared in the early entrants list provided by the NBA on Wednesday morning.

“He will do that,” Barnes said of James entering the NBA Draft process a few weeks ago. “Jo is a very methodical and well-thought-out person. He will do it based on how he feels and when he decides when he is going to announce, whether he is going to do it or not.”

James had been a glue guy for Tennessee over the past couple of seasons. He did a variety of things, including shining on the defensive end and making an impact on the glass. However, his offensive game never really seemed to get going. That changed this past season, where triple-J became maybe the most important player on the team down the stretch.

James scored in double figures in every game in the month of March, powering Tennessee to an SEC Tournament victory in Tampa. For the season, he averaged 10.3 points per game, six rebounds and 1.7 assists. His three-point shooting improved to 32 percent for the season after a really strong February and March.

“I think it’s important for all of them,” Barnes said earlier this month of the draft process. “I think if you have the opportunity to do that and I think when the time comes that they feel like they’re ready to do that, I think they need to do it. I do.”

James joins Santiago Vescovi in the draft process, both keep their options open to return to Tennessee for next season. The Volunteers currently have three scholarships open, assuming both do return.

For the 6-6, 214 pound James, there’s certainly a spot for him in the NBA as early as next season. His defense, length and emerging jumper could have NBA teams willing to call his name in the second round of this year’s draft.

Then again, another season with a little more consistency could boost his stock even further.