Vols One of Two Finalists for Top Five-Star Target

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    (Photo via Sean Rayford/The State)

    Tennessee’s top remaining target in the 2019 recruiting class is set to announce his college decision later this week. And the Vols are one of his two finalists.

    According to 247Sports, five-star combo guard Josiah James will be announcing his college decision on Wednesday of this week at approximately 10:30 AM Eastern. It’s believed his decision will come down to either Tennessee or Clemson as to where he’ll enroll for next season. He had a visit scheduled to see Duke on September 27th, but he’s canceled that visit. That makes it appear as though the Vols and Tigers are the two teams James will be picking between.

    James took an official visit to Tennessee back on September 7th and officially visited Clemson this past weekend. Right now, it looks like Clemson might be the team with a slight lead in James’ recruitment, but the Vols’ coaches do have a close relationship with James and his family and have for years. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, James is rated as the No. 14 overall player and No. 3 combo guard in the 2019 class. He was previously classified as a point guard and was the top point guard in the 2019 cycle by the composite rankings.

    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. He’s made several trips to Clemson as well, and the Tigers are a favorite team for a lot of the students at Porter-Gaud, the high school James attends.

    James’ height and athleticism could give him a great deal of versatility. 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. But Tenneseee is looking at him as purely a point guard first.

    James’ size and separate him from most other guards. James has the passing and awareness to develop into a quality point guard, and he also has a smooth shooting release. 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. His defensive versatility should be particularly intriguing to UT’s staff.

    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.

    Tennessee is looking to add a guard to their 2019 class if possible, and a point guard would be preferable for the class. The Vols missed out on four-star Tre Mann, but James has been a top target for Tennessee for a while and has developed into an elite player. The Vols have also been pursuing high four-star combo guard Jalen Lecque. The Vols hosted Lecque on an official visit this past weekend just a week after hosting James.

    The Vols currently have two players committed to them in their 2019 class. Three-star forward and Bearden standout Drew Pember and three-star forward Davonte Gaines from New York are Tennessee’s current 2019 commits.

    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.