Rick Barnes highlights the skillset of Jonas Aidoo

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater01/07/24


Rick Barnes Talks Sec Opener Against Ole Miss

Tennessee C Jonas Aidoo opened conference play with the second-highest scoring game of his career on Saturday. As Rick Barnes put it, it was exactly the kind of outing that he has wanted to see out of the junior.

Barnes spoke about Aidoo’s performance after the 90-64 win for the No. 5 Volunteers over No. 22 Ole Miss this weekend. He was proud of the double-double he put up because Aidoo met the expectations that he has for him as a player and contributor for their team.

“I thought Jonas fought physically too. I mean he did,” said Barnes. “We had talked about it. He and I had a long talk the other day after practice. I just told him how good I thought he was. And I said, ‘Jonas – you’re so much better than you’re playing. I think you’re as good as anybody if you’re willing to do what you need to do day in and day out.'”

“I believe it because Jonas is just a wonderful person, a great kid. Love being around him,” Barnes continued. “I told him, I said that I’ve got really high expectations for you. He was really focused yesterday in practice.”

Aidoo finished with game-highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Rebels on 10-19 (52.6%) shooting. That brought his season’s statistics up to 11.4 points and seven rebounds to go with 1.4 blocks and a 51.2% field-goal rate in 23.4 minutes a game.

This game comes four games after Aidoo set a new career-high of 29 points on 62.5% shooting while also grabbing 11 boards against Georgia Southern.

Aidoo is having a career year as the starter in the middle for the Vols. It’s happening after a long process of getting him to perform at this level each game.

Now that he’s here, though, Barnes wants to see him continue to make strides against the best as they continue to move into conference play.

“I told him this – it’s hard to play this game the right way day in and day out. Where he wants to go? You’ve got to do that. And I think he does but it’s hard,” said Barnes. “I mean what we ask these guys to do, day in and day out and how we’ve tried to build this team, is hard.”

“Knowing how hard it is, night in and night out? When you put up numbers like this? It gets harder. But that’s what makes you get better, that’s what sharpens,” Barnes explained. “You talk about iron sharpening iron. When you get good and people come at you every night? You either embrace that challenge or you’re going to take one step forward, two steps back.”