Josiah-Jordan James has shocked everyone and announced that he’s going to return to Tennessee for one final season. The senior guard had been going through the NBA Draft process for the past several weeks, and it was a forgone conclusion that he would go pro after Rick Barnes and the staff filled out their 13-man roster last month.
Apparently that draft process didn’t go as he had hoped, and James will find a way back to Tennessee for the 2023-24 season. The Volunteers have already added three out of the transfer portal — Chris Ledlum, Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey. That’s in addition to the class of 2023, which features four more players.
The deadline to withdraw was tonight at midnight ET.
Tennessee confirmed the news shortly after James’ announcement.
“I’m excited and blessed to be able to represent Tennessee for one more year,” James said. “After last season, I talked with the coaching staff about how important it was for me to go through the draft evaluation process and get NBA feedback, since I wasn’t able to do that last offseason.
“I also knew that the coaches here had to build a full roster for this year and prepare for the possibility that I might not be back. I love the pieces they’ve put together, and I’m eager to join this new group of teammates for one more run.”
So now Tennessee sits over the 13-man scholarship limit. Obviously the staff will have to find a solution to this, meaning a player would have to come off of scholarship, one way or another. Could James walk-on? We’ll see.
For James, it’s a second chance at a senior season that didn’t go as planned. He struggled with injuries throughout the year, missing basically the entire first half of the season. Hopefully those issues are behind him now, and he can build upon the success we saw at the end of his junior year.
James joins Santiago Vescovi as a fifth-year senior, giving Tennessee a ton of leadership going into this season. Expectations just got a whole lot higher on Rocky Top this season. Tennessee was already in the top ten of most way-too-early top 25s.
The Vols are going to be talented, and ridiculously deep. That will obviously help as Zeigler continues to rehab his way back from a torn ACL.
Tennessee’s New Projected 2023-24 Lineup
PG: Zakai Zeigler
SG: Santiago Vescovi
SF: Josiah-Jordan James
F: Chris Ledlum
C: Jonas Aidoo
Rotation: G Dalton Knecht, G Jahmai Mashack, F Tobe Awaka, C JP Estrella, G Freddie Dilione, G Jordan Gainey