If you watch college basketball at all, you know who Dick Vitale is. And love him or hate him, his opinion holds sway among college basketball fans across the country. And he seems to be a big fan of what the Vols are looking like heading into this upcoming season.
In a discussion with national analyst Gary Parrish on Twitter, ESPN’s Vitale listed off his top four teams for the upcoming 2018-19 college basketball season. And he placed Tennessee at No. 3 on his list, just ahead of perennial college basketball power Duke. Vitale has Kansas as the top team heading into the season and Kentucky as No. 2 on his list.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) July 6, 2018
The No. 3 ranking is nothing new for a Vol squad who has received nothing but praise after a surprising and successful 2017-18 season. The Vols went 26-9, won a share of the SEC regular season title, made it to the SEC Tournament Finals, and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. And that all happened after the SEC media picked them to finish second-to-last in the conference before the season.
Tennessee returns a large bulk of the roster from last season that brought them all that success. And that’s why expectations are so high for the Vols heading into head coach Rick Barnes’ fourth season at the helm.
The Vols return all five of their starters and their top six scores from last season. Among those returning players are SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams, First Team All-SEC forward Admiral Schofield, and SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year Lamonte Turner. Tennessee also added four-star center/power forward D.J. Burns in their 2018 signing class to add even more depth in their front court.
This offseason has been nothing but positive news for the Vols from a national media perspective. Tennessee has received multiple top-10 and top-5 preseason predictions, and both Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield have seen their names mentioned in the national spotlight significantly more than last year.
Not only that, but Tennessee legend Chris Lofton was asked by former Vol and current radio host Jayson Swain which player reminded him most of himself on UT’s current roster, and he replied with Lamonte Turner’s name.
I asked @clofton606 who on the current team reminds him of him the most (this is a hard question bc C LO is a legend. Not many compare) but the answer was Lamonte Turner. Gym rat
— Jayson Swain (@SwainEvent) July 6, 2018
The hype is real for Tennessee’s men’s basketball team heading into next season. Expectations will be at an all-time high for the program. The Vols have never started off the season inside the top five of the AP Poll, but they seem destined to start there before the 2018-19 season.