We’ve been waiting for Tennessee basketball news for a few weeks now, and it seems we’ve gotten it all at once. The latest piece of the puzzle is that Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips will be testing the NBA Draft waters, but neither have signed an agent, meaning both can still opt to return to Knoxville if they choose.
James went through the process last season and returned. This will be Phillips’ first time through. Rick Barnes announced the news during a Big Orange Caravan stop in Nashville.
“Both Josiah and Julian are going through the NBA process,” Barnes said, via 247Sports. “That’s what they have to do and it’s a process they have to go through. They’re certainly training for it. We want what’s best for them. That’s just a process they have to go through.”
James has one more year of eligibility left, thanks to the NCAA’s COVID rule. He went through an injury-filled senior season, missing the majority of the first half of the year.
Phillips committed to Tennessee as a five-star prospect, but didn’t quite live up to the hype. Once mocked as a first-round pick, Phillips has now slid down projections into the back half of the second round. A return to Tennessee for some added development makes a lot of sense, but we’ll see what NBA teams tell him during the process.
Tennessee has already picked up two transfer commitments — Jordan Gainey from USC Upstate and Chris Ledlum from Harvard. Those two names would theoretically fill in spots vacated by Tyreke Key and Olivier Nkamhoua.
Santiago Vescovi announced on Tuesday night that he would return for one final season. Uros Plavsic still has a decision to make, also with one potential season of eligibility remaining.
The deadline to withdraw your name from the NBA Draft is set for June 12th.