In his first meeting with the local media in a couple months, Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes confirmed that point guard signee Lamonte Turner has enrolled at Tennessee, but hasn’t been cleared to join the team yet. Barnes said he didn’t know how long that process would take for the three-star native of Harvest, Ala., who re-classified to the 2015 class after being in the 2016 class and signing with Barnes and the Vols in May.
“There’s not (a timetable) – he’s in school, and we’re still going through the process of what we have to, and there’s no timetable,” Barnes said.
Turner’s tenuous status still leaves the Vols with what most would consider no true point guard on the roster after the graduation of Josh Richardson, who was a converted shooting guard himself, and the departure of walk-on point guard Braxton Bonds over the offseason.
Barnes isn’t looking at it that way, per se, though. He sees it as a by-committee approach where he’ll train virtually all of his players to handle the basketball, and that will likely be the case whether or not Turner is eventually cleared to join the team this year.
“You have to realize, we’ve been doing this all summer,” Barnes said. “There’s not one guy that we don’t train to handle the basketball, we spend a lot of time on skill development – passing, catching, shooting, dribbling and it’s not just one guy, because I’ve been in this long enough to know, that guys can get hurt, somebody has to fill in and so we’re going to train our guards to be guards. You know, we could play with two point guards, with Kevin (Punter) at the point and Armani (Moore) at step-out four, but being the primary ball handler. There’s a lot of ways your could play this. We’re not going to get hung up on one guy has to be the point guard.”
In addition to Punter and Moore, Barnes also mentioned Detrick Mostella as somebody who can handle the basketball in addition to newcomer Shembari Phillips, though he said Phillips may not be ready for that responsibility full-time yet.
“We’re going to do whatever we have to do,” Barnes said. “I think Shembari (Phillips) – it was a great experience for him this summer to have to learn how to play that position. I don’t think he’s ready to do it full-time, to do that, but I think what he experienced this summer is going to help him in the long-run as a player himself. I do believe that the more guys can handle the ball, have a feel for the game, see the game, it just all translates to something good for them wherever they are on the court.”