Ben: Vols Advance to at Least the Elite Eight
This is the deepest Tennessee basketball team in my lifetime. The Vols may lack that elite talent that stands out above everyone else, but every player in Tennessee’s rotation is capable of stepping up and leading the team on any given night.
In the exhibition against Tusculum, we saw Rick Barnes use all 15 available players on his bench, but he’ll use a 10-man rotation for the regular season. While the starting five is as good as any unit in the country, I believe the bench is as well. Lamonte Turner is viewed by the staff as an additional starter, while Yves Pons and Jalen Johnson are on the verge of having breakout seasons. Derrick Walker and John Fulkerson, the other two prominent bench guys, are also capable of having breakout seasons. Walker has trimmed down his body fat, and it appears that Fulkerson has knocked off the rust from his injury-plagued first two seasons on campus.
As for the starters, there may not be a better duo in the country than Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Williams is the reigning SEC Player of the Year and has received plenty of preseason recognition, but it’s possible, as Nathanael predicted, that Schofield is the best player in the conference this year. Kyle Alexander is a great rim-protector, Jordan Bone has the potential to be one of the best point guards in the country, and Jordan Bowden is going to have a tremendous season, as I’ll explain here in a moment.
I say all that to say this, Tennessee is talented, deep, and experienced. Pair that with a phenomenal coaching staff, and I think you have the ingredients to make a deep run through the SEC, the SEC Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament.