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Tennessee Basketball's transfers help Vols move up seven spots in ESPN's Way Too Early Top 25

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey06/01/24

GrantRamey

How much did Tennessee Basketball help itself in the NCAA Transfer Portal? Enough to move up seven spots in ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25 rankings for the 2024-25 season. 

The Vols moved up from No. 20 to No. 13 after ESPN updated its offseason rankings on Thursday. 

Tennessee lost four players to the Transfer Portal in junior center Jonas Aidoo, sophomore power forward Tobe Awaka, redshirt freshman guard Freddie Dilione V and redshirt freshman wing DJ Jefferson

The Vols also added four players from the portal. North Florida guard Chaz Lanier committed last Friday and signed on Saturday to complete the portal class. He followed Hofstra transfer wing Darlinstone Dubar, Charlotte forward Igor Milicic Jr. and Ohio State center Felix Okpara

Chaz Lanier completed Tennessee Basketball’s NCAA Transfer Portal class

Lanier averaged 19.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 33.4 minutes per game last season, shooting 51.0% from the field and 44.0% from the 3-point line. Dubar averaged a career-high 17.8 points per game in 33 games this season, shooting 53.9% from the floor and 39.9% from the 3-point line.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Milicic averaged 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior this season at Charlotte, shooting 48.7% from the field and 37.6% from the 3-point line. Okpara, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound big man, averaged 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks at Ohio State. 

Tennessee lost three fifth-year seniors, with Dalton Knecht, Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi all exhausting their eligibility. Rick Barnes returns Zakai Zeigler, Jordan Gainey and Jahmai Mashack for their senior seasons, alongside underclassmen in forwards JP Estrella and Cade Phillips and wing Cam Carr, three rising sophomores. 

Four-star point guard Bishop Boswell committed to Tennessee last September and signed with the Vols in November and is the lone prep prospect in the program’s 2024 signing class.

Seven SEC teams ranked in ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25

Other SEC teams in ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25 were No. 2 Alabama, No. 11 Auburn, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 20 Florida and No. 22 Ole Miss

“Dalton Knecht is gone, and with him goes Rick Barnes’ best offense in several years,” ESPN’s Jeff Borzello wrote. “But if the more up-tempo, 3-point-heavy offensive system remains in Knoxville, there should be plenty of optimism. 

“The Volunteers also landed another potential stud mid-major transfer in North Florida’s Chaz Lanier, who averaged 19.7 points and shot 44% from 3. Barnes will surround high-level point guard Zakai Zeigler with a slew of shooters and Ohio State transfer Felix Okpara will anchor the interior defensively.”

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