Coming off a season where Tennessee stood atop the SEC mountain, we’re once again in the offseason, and to no one’s surprise, the Transfer Portal is chaos. The wild, wild west is back, and it’s as messy and unpredictable as you’d expect.
Though Tennessee hasn’t been particularly active thus far, the rest of the SEC is an entirely different story. Let’s take a look at the transactions that have taken place thus far for the Vols.
As I mentioned before, it’s been more of an exodus than anything else at Tennessee. The Vols equal their usage of the portal with just one addition thus far. Rick Barnes is bringing in a light recruiting class, but those three recruits pack a punch. Five-star 6-foot-8 forward, Julian Phillips, headlines the class that also includes a pair of four-star recruits; point guard BJ Edwards, a hometown kid, and forward DJ Jefferson from Minnesota. Let’s look at what’s coincided in the portal to these three signings.
Tyreke Key: ★★★☆☆ | G | 6-3/205 | Celina, TN | 1 year eligibility
Transferring from: Indiana State
Stats: (4 seasons) 32.4 MPG, 14.5 PPG, 1.7 APG, 4.4 RPG, 45.9 FG%, 37.4 3PT%
— Key chose to come home with his final year of eligibility. The former 2017 Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee spent four years at Indiana State, racking up 1650 points for the Sycamores. Key averaged 16.7 points per game over his last three seasons, shooting 38.5% from three.
He adds a necessary piece to this team: point guard experience. With KC gone, that left just Zakai Zeigler and soon-to-be freshman BJ Edwards to helm the point guard duties. They badly needed a seasoned player who can score, and that’s exactly what Key provides.
The elephant in the room here, however, is that Key missed all of last season following shoulder surgery.
Brock Jancek: N/A | PF | 6-8/222 | Knoxville, TN | 1 year eligibility
Transferring to: East Tennessee State
— Jancek was never going to crack the rotation for the Vols. He totaled just 30 total minutes in his four years at Tennessee.
Victor Bailey: ★★★☆☆ | SG | 6-4/186 | Austin, TX | 1 year eligibility
Transferring to: George Mason
Stats: (2 seasons w/ TEN) 16.3 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 38.5 FG%, 30.4 3PT%
— Bailey, who was once a top 100 recruit, was forced to sit out all of the 2019-20 season after transferring from Oregon to Tennessee, and despite playing a lot of minutes in 2020-21, Vic was never able to reach his full potential and was passed up by other guards for spots in Barnes’ rotation. George Mason provides a significant boost to playing time, and a season with Kim English can only bring good things.
Handje Tamba: ★★★☆☆ (HS) | PF | 6-11/229 | Knoxville, TN | 4 years eligibility
Transferring to: Weber State
— Tamba never played at Tennessee. A fringe top 300 recruit, he was heralded as a solid rebounder with a high motor.
Quentin Diboundje: ★★★☆☆ | SG | 6-5/217 | Montverde, FL | 4 years eligibility
Transferring to: East Carolina
— Following Michael Schwartz to East Carolina is an all-around net plus for both Diboundje and the ECU program. A former top 200 recruit, he will have plenty of eligibility left and get more playing time at ECU with the coach who helped recruit him to Tennessee in the first place.
Brandon Huntley-Hatfield: ★★★★☆ | PF | 6-10/246 | Scotland, PA | 3 years eligibility
Transferring to: Louisville
Stats: (1 season) 12.5 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 45.7 FG%
— This is unfortunate but not at all surprising. Despite being a five-star, top 30 recruit, Huntley-Hatfield was largely the fourth man on the Vols’ big man totem pole behind Olivier, Uros, and Fulky.
BHH had problems catching the ball and seemed out-muscled inside at times, but he was definitely making strides towards the end of the season. He ends up being Kenny Payne’s first big get on his first recruiting trail as Louisville’s head coach.
Justin Powell: ★★★☆☆ | SG | 6-6/197 | Goshen, KY | 3 years eligibility
Transferring to: Washington State
Stats: (1 season w/ TEN) 14.1 MPG, 3.7 PPG, 38.1 3PT%
—Powell has yet to find a home in his college basketball career. Starting out at Auburn, he played a lot as a freshman but transferred to Tennessee amidst the investigations and Auburn’s newfound logjam at the guard spot. He brought a lot of excitement to Knoxville as he knocked down threes at a 44.2% clip shooting over four treys a game for Bruce Pearl.
However, things just never worked out. Powell never found consistent minutes and was consistently exploited on the defensive end when he did. Washington State is a perfect fit for Powell and his style of play in a far less physical conference to boot.
Cleaning up depth was an integral piece of Rick Barnes’ offseason. Though losing Huntley-Hatfield and his potential growth could be a big blow, Tennessee will rely on Uros Plavsic and Jonas Aidoo inside next year as well as a returning Olivier Nkamhoua. Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James will be returning for their senior seasons, but adding Key in the portal and BJ Edwards shores up the hole left by Kennedy Chandler at point guard to aid ZZ.
This is going to be a potentially deeper squad than a year ago in the backcourt, and a hopefully full healthy season of Olivier inside could really see this team take off.