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Rick Barnes says Vols have improved perimeter shooting ‘with our recruiting'

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey04/21/23

GrantRamey

Rick Barnes couldn’t mention Jordan Gainey by name Wednesday night during the Big Orange Caravan stop in Nashville. But the Tennessee head coach hinted enough to make it obvious he was referencing what at the time was the newest commitment for the Vols.

While speaking with reporters before the event at Nissan Stadium, Barnes was asked if the Tennessee staff was looking for more scoring to add to the 2023-24 roster. The Vols finished 190th in scoring offense this season, averaging just 70.8 points per game.

“I do think, well I don’t think, I know,” Barnes said, “that we have improved our perimeter shooting with our recruiting.”

Tennessee added commitment from USC Upstate SG Jordan Gainey on Tuesday

On Tuesday the Vols got a commitment from Gainey, the 6-foot-4, 175-pound son of Tennessee associate head coach Justin Gainey. Jordan Gainey averaged 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists, shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from the 3-point line over the last two seasons at USC Upstate.

The Vols shot 32.9 percent from the 3-point line this season, ranked 231st nationally according to KenPom.com. Tennessee was 64th in adjusted offensive efficiency for the season, scoring 111.3 points per 100 possessions. 

“I think there’s no doubt we need to improve our shooting,” Barnes said. “Not only by recruiting it, which I think we have done that, but also with the guys that we have. I have great confidence that these guys are going to do that. I think we’ll be a more athletic team. And we’ll be a little bit different somewhat up front. We’ll still add there.”

Tennessee added to the front court not long after Barnes was done talking Wednesday in Nashville, adding a commitment from Harvard forward Chris Ledlum, who averaged 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game this season, shooting 47.3 percent from the floor.

Santiago Vescovi returning for fifth year with Vols

Tennessee got good news in the backcourt from Santiago Vescovi Tuesday night, too, with the senior guard announcing he was coming back to the Vols for a fifth season

Vescovi led Tennessee this season in both scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game, and minutes, playing 32.9 minutes per game. He shot 39.6 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from the 3-point line, going 91 of 246 from deep.

He shot 41.3 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from the 3-point line in 2021-22, going 102-for-253 from the arc. Vescovi became only the second Tennessee player in program history to hit 100 or more threes in a single season, joining Chris Lofton, who did so three times.

“I do know that, you know what, we shot right around 32 percent (at the 3-point line),” Barnes said. “What I told our guys, we just need the guys to take the shots within our offense. And they’ve got to do that with confidence. That’s part of my job, to make sure they know that.”

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