Rick Barnes Visits Five-Star Guard

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    (Photo via Sean Rayford/The State)

    Tennessee was busy all last weekend during the first open weekend of the AAU circuit in high school recruiting. Head coach Rick Barnes and his coaching staff went and saw several of the Vols’ top targets in the 2019 and 2020 classes play in summer leagues, and they’ve been just as busy this weekend too. Tennessee visited a five-star center on Friday, a four-star point guard on Saturday, and Rick Barnes was in to see a five-star combo guard on Sunday.

    Josiah James is a five-star combo guard out of Charleston, South Carolina. Tennessee has recently begun to make him a bigger priority in their 2019 recruiting cycle, and for good reason. James has moved inside the top-20 of the 247Sports Composite rankings, earning the No. 18 spot nationally and the No. 3 combo guard ranking. He’s also the top player in the state of South Carolina by those rankings. And Barnes was in attendance to watch him play during Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League on Sunday.

    The Vols visited James back on April 17th, and they’ve been very involved with him as of late. But Tennessee is far from the only team interested in James. The talented guard picked scholarship offers from Michigan State and Florida State on Sunday, and he added those offers to ones he already has from Louisville, Cincinnati, Virginia, Xavier, Auburn, Wichita State, Stanford, South Carolina, and others.

    James, who’s listed at 6-foot-6, 195 pounds, primarily plays shooting guard in high school. But given his size and athleticism, he can probably play three positions in college. James has the passing and awareness to develop into a quality point guard, but he also has the smooth shooting ability to thrive as a shooting guard. The lefty can also cut and slash to the basket effectively and is rangy like a small forward. He’s a very versatile player who is also pesky on defense.

    In nine recorded games from this past high school season on PrepCircuit.com, James averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5 assists as a junior for Porter-Guad High School.

    Tennessee’s coaches have been focusing a lot on guards and centers in the 2019 cycle so far, and they’ll be looking to add a couple guards in this next recruiting class in preparation for Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, and Lamonte Turner all graduating after the 2019-20 season.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.