KNOXVILLE – Tennessee basketball’s Twitter account put out a post Friday morning that turned out to be rather timely.
The post began with “something special about those Rick Barnes point guards.” It included a video that opened with former Vols point guard Jordan Bone talking about the challenges and the benefits of playing the position for Tennessee’s veteran coach.
“Being a point guard under Barnes is the hardest position,” Jones said.
“You have the hardest job, but you’ve got to embrace it. You’ve got to embrace it because it’s going to make you great.”
A few hours later Kennedy Chandler accepted the challenge. The nation’s No. 1 ranked point guard recruit in the Class of 2021 announced his commitment to the Vols on ESPN’s Sportscenter Instagram account. He chose the Vols from a group of finalists that included blue bloods Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky along with Memphis.
How about that. What a coincidence. Who knew?
The timing of Chandler’s announcement won’t matter as much as how he going about embracing the decision. The aforementioned video went on to mention several Barnes’ pupils who became first-round NBA Draft picks. T.J. Ford, D.J. Augustin and Cory Joseph, who played for Barnes at Texas, were first-round picks in 2003, 2008 and 2011 respectively. Bone was a second-round pick in 2019.
The 6-foot-1 Chandler, who’s from Memphis, is transferring to Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas for the coming season. The five-star prospect is the No. 11 overall ranked recruit nationally in the 247Sports Composite. He was the top prospect in the state of Tennessee.
Chandler’s commitment extends the recruiting momentum that UT has been building. He’s the fourth five-star prospect to choose Tennessee in the last three recruiting cycles.
Guard Josiah Jordan-James signed with the Vols in the 2019 class and was the No. 22 overall prospect in the class. He played a key role as a freshman, starting 26 games and averaging 7.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson signed with the Vols last November. Springer was ranked No. 15 in the class while Johnson was No. 18. Johnson, who’s from Bell Buckle, Tn., also was the top-ranked instate prospect.
Chandler’s decision also speaks highly on behalf of Kim English’s recruiting touch. The Vols’ assistant, who just completed his first season at Tennessee, was the primary recruiter for Chandler. English also is the primary recruiter of forward Paolo Banchero. The power forward from Seattle is the recruiting class’ No. 4 overall prospect. He made an official visit to Tennessee last October the same weekend as Chandler.
Maybe that’s another coincidence.
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Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.