Five-Star Guard Includes Vols as a Finalist

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    (Photo via Sean Rayford/The State)

    The Vols got bad news when their top pure point guard target, four-star Tre Mann, reopened his recruitment and started paying attention to some of the blue bloods of college basketball. But Tennessee hasn’t given up on him, and they haven’t given up on one of the top players in the 2019 class either. And late on Wednesday night, UT received some good news from that highly-rated player.

    Josiah James is a five-star guard out of Charleston, South Carolina. And according to Phenom Hoops on Twitter, James has narrowed his recruitment down to just four teams. And Tennessee is one of those four finalists along with Duke, Michigan State, and Clemson.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, James is the No. 1 point guard in the 2019 class and the No. 12 overall player in the country. A little over a month ago, he named his top nine schools in his recruitment. Now he’s cut over half the teams from that list, and the Vols survived the process.

    James has not only been a standout in high school, but he played with the USA Under 18 team this summer as well and looked solid along with the other five-stars and top competitors on the team.

    The 6-foot-6, 198-pound guard unofficially visited Duke earlier this month, but Tennessee’s coaches have been highly invested in James this year. He unofficially visited Tennessee back in April, and UT’s coaches paid him a visit this summer. The Vols are in a good spot with James, though the involvement of two blue bloods like Duke and Michigan State is definitely cause for pause.

    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. But he has the skill to excel at any position no matter what.

    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 fact, his defense is what separates him from some other guards in this class, and his height helps him out there as well.

    In nine recorded games from this past high school season on, James averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5 assists as a junior for Porter-Gaud High School. In six games for the USA U18 Team, he averaged 5.3 points, six rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 steals in 16.3 minutes per contest according to FIBA.

    Right now, the Vols don’t have a guard committed to them in the 2019 recruiting class and are looking to add at least one point guard/combo guard in this class. With Mann’s recruitment up in the air, James might become UT’s top guard target. And it’s not unrealistic to think the Vols have a shot at landing him.

    Tennessee currently has two commitments in their 2019 class. Three-star forward and Bearden standout Drew Pember and three-star forward Davonte Gaines from New York are the Vols’ two current commits in this cycle.