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Roster reset: What Tennessee basketball will look like next year

Recapping all the changes.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

After seeing Tennessee in the Top 10 of ESPN’s “way-too-early” men’s college basketball rankings, and with B.J. Edwards’ latest entry into the transfer portal, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at Tennessee men’s basketball roster as it continues to mold into form.

With 13 allotted scholarship positions filled, and a return looking more unlikely from Josiah Jordan-James, Julian Phillips, and Uros Plavsic, let’s take the opportunity to break down the current roster, and see where the team stands.

Current Tennessee Basketball Roster

It’s clear that Coach Rick Barnes and staff have put an emphasis on developing an offense that’s much less mercurial than the 2022-2023 team, focusing on adding guys who can score, both consistently and at all three levels. That said, with a focus on scoring, comes less of a focus on front court presence. Just speaking about players on scholarship - this year’s Tennessee team is much smaller than last year, rostering six guards, four forwards, and three forwards/centers. While lacking any real size, the roster is shaping up to be dynamic — at least on paper — with multiple “hybrid” players at the wing like Chris Ledlum, Dalton Knecht, and Jahmai Mashack.

Projected Starting Lineup

  • G Junior, Zakai Zeigler (Pending ACL recovery of course, but the floor general will be in the starting lineup if healthy)
  • G Senior, Santiago Vescovi (Sharpshooter. Were there any doubts?)
  • G Senior, Dalton Knecht (Tennessee finally gets a consistent bucket getter)
  • F Senior, Chris Ledlum (Oh hey, look, another bucket getter and this one rebounds too)
  • C/F Junior, Jonas Aidoo (Rim protector, could he finally thrive in a starting role?)

Projected Bench:

  • G Junior, Jahmai Mashack (Finally carved out a role for himself last year — excited to see what he does on both ends of the court with even more minutes)
  • G Freshman, Freddie Dilione (The hype and promise are there — could crack the starting lineup pending summer workouts)
  • F Sophomore, Tobe Awaka (Ferocious rebounder with a decent right jump hook - please work on free throws, please)
  • C/F Freshman, JP Estrella (On a team where front court depth isn’t abundant, he could be an x-factor)
  • G Junior, Jordan Gainey (40% career 3pt shooter — a marksmen off the bench? Yes please)
  • G RS Freshman, DJ Jefferson (Hopes to be Jahmai Mashack 2.0, very athletic)
  • G Freshman, Cameron Carr (A natural scorer but a bit too small, a potential redshirt)
  • F Freshman, Cade Phillips (Tenacious defender but needs work offensively, a project for now)

Key/Expected Losses

  • G Tyreke Key - A disappointing start to conference play is what most may think of when they hear this name, but 8 points per game off the bench and veteran leadership can be hard to come by.
  • F Julian Phillips - One of the more frustrating players in the Barnes era. Phillips never found his footing in conference play or the postseason, and his injury didn’t help.
  • G/F Josiah Jordan James - A lockdown defender, perimeter threat, and, most importantly, an incredible leader. His absence will be felt early on this year.
  • F Olivier Nkamhoua - Jekyll and Hyde, but nobody can deny 11 points per game on 50% shooting is something the Vols will miss. Hopefully Ledlum fills this role.
  • C Uros Plavsic - A bruiser that sometimes hurt as much as he helped. That said, the Vols will need to find a way to fill his enforcer role — albeit toned down a bit.

Obviously these things are subject to change, but feel free to come at me with pitchforks and lit torches explaining why Dilione will be a starter or they won’t miss Key at all. Conversation is always welcomed.