Tennessee Coach Visits Five-Star Guard

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    (Photo via Sean Rayford/The State)

    Tennessee already has a couple forwards committed in their 2019 class, and they’ll likely look to add a couple guards to their class as well. One of their top targets is currently playing for the United States’ Under 18 Team in Canada, and one of the Vols’ assistant coaches went to go watch him play.

    Josiah James is a five-star point guard out of Charleston, South Carolina. He’s on the roster for the USA U18 Team, and UT assistant Michael Schwartz was in attendance to watch him play when USA took on Panama. James scored eight points, pulled down six rebounds, and dished an assist in 17 minutes as Team USA throttled Panama 118-26 up in Canada.

    The 6-foot-6, 195-pound guard has continued to rise in the recruiting rankings this summer. He moved into the top-20 overall players in the 2019 class on 247Sports back in April, and now he’s inside the top-15 recruits. The 247Sports Composite rankings have the five-star guard as the No. 14 overall player and No. 2 point guard in the entire 2019 cycle.

    James received a visit from Tennessee in mid-April and again from head coach Rick Barnes in late April. He currently holds offers from Duke, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Auburn, Louisville, Stanford, Xavier, Wichita State, and others.

    With a few of Tennessee’s targets at guard moving on, James has become more of a focal point for the Vols at the position. He and four-star Tre Mann are likely the Vols’ top two targets at point guard. And though he’s listed as a point guard, James’ height and athleticism might make him a better fit at shooting guard or even at small forward.

    James primarily plays shooting guard in high school. But given his size and ability, 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-Gaud High School. In three games for the USA U18 Team, he’s averaging five points, 5.3 rebounds, two assists, and 1.3 steals in 16.2 minutes per contest according to FIBA. He’s also shooting 50 percent from three.

    The Vols will likely need a guard or two in their 2019 class and definitely a couple in their 2020 class. Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, and Lamote Turner are all juniors heading into the 2018-19 season, and the Vols will have to replace all three after the 2019-20 season.

    Tre Mann is Tennessee’s top point guard target in the 2019 class, but James is a versatile player who could find a role on any team across the country. Beating out blue bloods like Duke and Kentucky (who James has expressed interest in despite them not offering him yet) to land James in the 2019 class will be difficult, however.

    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.