Dan Fleser: Vols And Lady Vols Recruiting Has Changed

Monday, May 16, 2022
Used to be when someone like five-star prospect Julian Phillips signed with Tennessee basketball, the news would’ve been hailed as a rare achievement for the Vols.

Not anymore.

Likewise, the thought of Tennessee women’s basketball adding four transfers in one incoming class would’ve been unthinkable in years past.

Times have changed.

The recruiting of both Tennessee basketball teams this spring reflects changes that have occurred both at the individual program level and nationally.

For example, the Vols have signed 11 McDonald’s All-Americans in their team history.
Six have come during coach Rick Barnes’ era. Phillips is the fourth in as many years, following Josiah-Jordan James (2019), Jaden Springer (2020) and Kennedy Chandler (2021).  Phillips is part of a growing trend.

Meanwhile, when Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper was a player at Tennessee in the late 1990s, the team’s recruiting focused entirely on high school prospects. The Lady Vols did add a high school All-American for next season in Justine Pissott. She fits the usual signing class profile. But Rickea Jackson, Jasmine Powell, Jasmine Franklin and Jillian Hollingshead come via the transfer portal and represent a new recruiting order.

Based on what has transpired, here are the three UT newcomers who best reflect the changing times.

Jackson: The Lady Vols recruited the 6-foot-2 forward out of high school, when the former Detroit Edison Public School Academy standout was one of the nation’s top prospects. She chose Mississippi State and played up to her billing, leading the SEC in scoring as a junior.

Although Harper didn’t recruit Jackson, Lady Vols assistant Samantha Williams did as an assistant at Louisville. Jackson also knew Lady Vols guard Jordan Horston. The familiarity served the Lady Vols’ purpose.

Under former coach Holly Warlick, the Lady Vols suffered in the end for toxic team chemistry, but not for recruiting. Warlick and her staff added top five signing classes in 2016 and ’17. Harper, who is preparing for her fourth season, has not yet signed a comparable collection of high school talent. Based on ESPN’s rankings, however, she and her staff have gathered this year’s top collection of transfers.

Phillips: The 6-foot-8, 200 pounder wing was ranked No. 12 nationally in the 2022 class according to the 247Sports Composite and was ranked second among forwards. The former LSU commitment is talented enough to have considered the NBA’s G-League Ignite before choosing Tennessee.

Phillips mentioned Barnes’ track record for preparing wing players for the NBA, which is part of another Vols' trend that aids recruiting.

Grant Williams changed his player profile while at UT. The former Vol forward hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points Sunday for the Boston Celtics in a Game 7 playoff victory over defending champion Milwaukee. Regarding the aforementioned five-stars, Springer is in the league and Chandler is projected as a first-round pick next month in the draft.

Phillips’ signing also helped ease the Vols’ transfer news, which had been trending against them. Five players have entered the portal since the season’s end. One transfer, guard Tyreke Key, has signed.  

Hollingshead: Since Tamari Key is a senior, the Lady Vols needed to add a post player. The 6-5 Hollingshead, a transfer from Georgia, fits the bill.

Like Jackson, Tennessee benefitted from having recruited Hollingshead out of high school. Unlike Jackson – and the other two transfers for that matter – Hollingshead, a former McDonald’s All-American, will be a sophomore. The Lady Vols are getting someone with less experience but more eligibility.

* * *

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 ddanfleser3@gmail.com.

AA South Baseball Standings

McIntosh Kicks Off 4th Of July Weekend Super Late Model Extravaganza With $5,000 Boyd's Victory

UTC Assistant Basketball Coaches Chosen To Attend TopConnect Basketball Symposium


AA-South Standings/Results (as of games of 7/1/22) Second Half North Division Team W L PCT GB Birmingham ... (click for more)

The Boyd's Speedway kicked off the 4th of July Weekend racing conjecture, with the Valvoline Iron-Man series Super Late Model showdown, hosting a $5,000 to win 50 lap event Friday night. 26 ... (click for more)

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball assistant coaches Ander Galfsky and Kenneth White were selected to participate in the prestigious 2022 TopConnect Basketball Symposium ... (click for more)



Sports

AA South Baseball Standings

AA-South Standings/Results (as of games of 7/1/22) Second Half North Division Team W L PCT GB Birmingham (CWS) 2 1 .750 - Rocket City (LAA)* 2 2 .500 1.0 Tennessee (CHC) 2 ... (click for more)

McIntosh Kicks Off 4th Of July Weekend Super Late Model Extravaganza With $5,000 Boyd's Victory

The Boyd's Speedway kicked off the 4th of July Weekend racing conjecture, with the Valvoline Iron-Man series Super Late Model showdown, hosting a $5,000 to win 50 lap event Friday night. 26 racet eams entered, with Alabama's Sam Seawright grabbing the pole position and setting the pace early in the race. Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, who's been out of racing, since his Blount ... (click for more)

Breaking News

EPA Awarding Brownfield Grant At Site Of Planned Lookouts Stadium

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe on Wednesday is set to present the city of Chattanooga with Brownfield program cleanup and assessment grants at the site of a planned new $79.5 million stadium to be used by the Lookouts. The press conference will be at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site. The grant is "to help spur economic revitalization ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Couple Describes Frightening Home Invasion

A Chattanooga couple on Friday morning described a frightening home invasion that a Memphis pair are accused of committing. Charges were bound to the Grand Jury against Darion Merriweather and William Edward Farmer IV. Judge Gerald Webb increased the bond for their aggravated burglary charges to $75,000. Farmer and Merriweather are facing two counts of kidnapping, aggravated ... (click for more)

Opinion

22 Questions And Concerns About A New $79.5 Million Lookouts Stadium

The proposal for the Lookouts stadium brings forth several questions that I have not gotten good answers yet from anyone. 1. If the 10 acres Gary Chazen is donating is worth $10,000,000, why doesn’t he and his partners just sell the 140 acres and go to the bank with over $100,000,000? 2. There has been over a billion dollars of new construction in downtown Chattanooga ... (click for more)

New Stadium Does Not Pass The Smell Test - And Response

I can't find any logical reasons that the new Lookout stadium is being placed where it is other than to think it's a combination of favoritism and eliminating an eyesore. All statistics point to an illogical decision coupled with questionable tax breaks/support. Lookouts average attendance in 2018 (all that I could quickly find) was 3,206 per game and ranked 74th among ... (click for more)