Vols to Get Official Visit from Five-Star Guard

    by -

    (Photo via USA Basketball)

    This weekend is an important weekend for the future of Tennessee’s men’s basketball team. They’ll be hosting one of the top players in the 2019 recruiting cycle, and he plays at a big position of need for the Vols moving forward.

    Josiah James is a five-star combo guard in the 2019 class, and he’s set official visits to three of his top schools this month. This weekend, James is set to take one of his official visits to see Tennessee. He’ll take an official visit to Clemson the next weekend and Duke on the 21st. Earlier this summer, James named Tennessee, Duke, Clemson, and Michigan State as his four finalists moving forward.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, James is the No. 13 overall player and is the No. 3 combo guard in the 2019 class. He was previously classified as a point guard, but the combo guard designation is more fitting for his skill set.

    James has not only been a standout in high school and on the summer circuit, 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 in August, 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 several times 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.

    James’ height and athleticism might make him a better fit at shooting guard or even at small forward than at point guard. But he has the skill to excel at any position no matter what, and his versatility should help him find playing time easier than most other freshmen guards.

    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 PrepCircuit.com, James averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and five 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 four-star point guard Tre Mann recently committing to Florida, James might be UT’s top guard target along with four-star guard Jalen Lecque. And it’s not unrealistic to think the Vols have a shot at landing James, though Duke is likely the favorite right now.

    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.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    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.