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Five-star Tennessee target Julian Phillips narrows options, sets commitment date

A big situation to follow.

High School Basketball: Geico High School Nationals-Championship Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The top target left on Tennessee’s recruiting board for the class of 2022 is set to make a decision. Julian Phillips, a five-star forward out of Branson, Missouri, narrowed his choices to six today while also setting a decision date of May 12th.

Tennessee is on his list, along with Auburn, USC, Florida State and South Carolina. The G-League is also an option for Phillips.

Phillips decommitted from LSU through the Will Wade mess, putting one of the best players in the class back on the market late. Per 247Sports, Phillips is the 12th ranked player in the class — the second ranked power forward in the country.

Tennessee has been a player for Phillips since last summer. He took an official visit to Knoxville last September, following official visits to USC and Florida State. Auburn entered the race following his decommitment from LSU in March, likely trying to sell him on the chance to stepping into Jabari Smith’s role from last season.

Tennessee has four open scholarships remaining to fill this offseason after several departures to the transfer portal. The Volunteers have filled one of those openings with sharpshooter Tyreke Key.

“I don’t think we’re surprised by any thing that has happened up to this point,” Rick Barnes said this week of his roster reconstruction. “We’re really not. We’ve been very selective. We’ve obviously used the portal and could still use it some. But it has got to be for the right, not just talent, but for the right chemistry.”

The Volunteers certainly have a big need remaining in the frontcourt, and they await final NBA decisions from Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi. Both are still expected to return.

Phillips is the biggest potential addition remaining. If they miss, look for a quick move back to the portal — maybe a couple of quick moves.