Tennessee coach Rick Barnes addressed a couple of the most pressing questions surrounding his 2015-16 roster during his appearance on the SEC Summer Teleconference on Monday.
Arguably the biggest one centers around point guard, where the Vols lost senior starter Josh Richardson (selected No. 40 overall by the Miami Heat) and walk-on Braxton Bonds (transfer) from last year’s roster. Freshman signee Lamonte Turner, who hasn’t arrived in Knoxville yet, is the only true point guard option the Vols have right now, but Barnes said it will have to be a team effort at that spot.
“I don’t know where we are, where I am today with it or what we would be today with it – it’d probably be by committee,” Barnes said. “And there’s a lot of time between now and before we really get started, so with what we do with our drills, I would say that knowing our offense and the way we do things, we want to train a lot of guys to play that position.”
Barnes didn’t mention names, but Turner certainly figures to factor into that conversation. Another newcomer, Shembari Phillips, told reporters at the Rocky Top League earlier this summer that he had some experience playing the point. Shooting guard Kevin Punter practiced at point guard some early in the 2014-15 season before Richardson solidified that spot. Forward Armani Moore came out of high school as a point guard.
Tennessee has other returning guards/wings – Robert Hubbs III, Devon Baulkman and Detrick Mostella – who may not have specific point guard experience, but have experience at the college level with the ball in their hands.
That leaves Tennessee with a lot of options, but few answers, as to who exactly who will handle the ball the most in 2015-16. And as Barnes stated, it likely won’t be a singular person, but the Vols need to find somebody they can count on down the stretch in close games.
“The real key to that position will be who we decided we want to give the ball to in the last four minutes of the game,” Barnes added. “And right now I can’t tell you that because I don’t know myself.”
Barnes discusses Kasongo, Alexander: Barnes was also asked about his two new true big men – Kyle Alexander and Ray Kasongo, both of whom are getting their first taste of Knoxville in the Rocky Top League this summer. Alexander is averaging 20.5 ppg in the summer league thus far, while Kasongo is averaging 15.3 ppg.
“They both certainly have the ability that we think they can be outstanding players for us,” Barnes said. “They’re two different players. You look at one guy (Kasongo) and he’s a tremendous body on him, still has to learn to use it, whereas, Kyle, he’s growing into his body. He’s young, but just a lot of potential ahead for him and he’s willing to work and put time in – he’s very conscientious – and wants to be good.”