We answer your questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“2014-15 Vols football is now the 2016-17 Vols basketball? Young and talented but over hyped for the next season?” – Spencer Scofield
Daniel: I’ve thought about that comparison as well. We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but I do think the basketball team will finish something like 18-15 with a berth to the NIT. That’s comparable to what the football team did in 2014 (7-6 with a TaxSlayer Bowl win).
I’m not sure this basketball team is going to be extremely overhyped heading into next year, however. I think the expectations will be higher, but also somewhat tempered since they will be losing Robert Hubbs III and (assuming they don’t go on a run here at the end), they didn’t have the crazy finish like the football team did in 2014. Fans will be thinking NCAA tournament next year, but probably not top 25 or anything like that. I think, with the young nucleus the Vols have, that is a fair expectation for next season.
Nathanael: I don’t think this team will turn out to be disappointing next season because I have more faith in Rick Barnes as a coach and developer of talent than I do Butch Jones. It’s as simple as that.
“Which uncommitted out-of-state prospects interest you the most?” – Clay
Daniel: I’ll go position-by-position with some names I have an early eye on:
QB: Michael Penix, Colson Yankoff, Justin Rogers
RB: Jaelen Gill, Fabian Franklin, Jashaun Corbin
WR: Elijah McAllister, Dillon Spalding, Iverson Clement
TE: Zach Sheffer, Judge Culpepper, Dominick Anderson (JUCO)
OL: Marquan McCall, Jalil Irvin, Christian Armstrong
DB: Gurvan Hall, Myles Sims, Christian Tutt
LB: Quin Williams, Dax Hollifield, Khalid Jones II
DL: Justin Mascoll, Malik Vann, Brenton Cox, Darnell Jeffries
Nathanael: Well, I think Daniel has it covered there. But I’ll say my top three most interesting and “top” ones for me is Yankoff, Quin Williams, and Justin Mascoll
“Is Serrano the anti-Butch? Doesn’t win enough either but…owns it, is likable & willing to change up his small ball approach.” – Mike Jehle
Daniel: I see where you’re going with that, but I still think Rick Barnes is the true anti-Butch. He’s straight-forward, old school and not flashy. As we mentioned earlier in the mailbag, they’re about at the same place through two seasons, but they couldn’t be much more different in their approach.
As for Serrano, I just don’t know what to do with him. He has the track record, I think he knows college baseball about as well as anybody and he recruits at a high level. He just can’t seem to get it done at UT. Maybe that changes in 2017, but it’s tough to bet on that at this point. I’m not saying that you keep him forever, but it also kind of feels like: if he can’t get it done at UT, who can?
Nathanael: Serrano is such a baffling figure here at Tennessee. Vol fans always want a big name hire in any sport, and Serrano was about as big of a name as you could get in baseball, especially considering where Vols baseball was when he took over. Serrano had multiple College World Series appearances and appeared to know how to recruit. So far, he’s been a major bust here. He has, as you said, been willing to change and try and make things work. But so far, nothing has really worked. I agree with Daniel, however, that Barnes is the anti-Butch. But Serrano is a close second.
“Better nickname for (2017 basketball recruit) Yves (Pons): Eiffel, Pepê, RoquiTop, Jocque of Bloque?” – @neylandmafia
Daniel: Those are all tremendous. If he were like 6-11, I’d go Eiffel, but since he’s 6-foot-6, I like RoquiTop.
Nathanael: Yeah, RoquiTop has to be the winner here. I know I can’t wait to hear Bob Kesling say his name, though.