For a team that doesn’t play a single former top-100 high school recruit, the Vols’ roster sure does have a lot of talent. And that talent has grabbed the attention of analysts and scouts everywhere.
Tennessee boasts a two-time SEC Player of the Year, a First-Team All-SEC wing, and a Second-Team All-SEC point guard. None of those players were highly-regarded coming out of high school, but all three have developed into legitimate top-tier players at their respective positions.
Two of those players are also considered two of the best players in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
SB Nation compiled a list of the top 50 players in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and Tennessee has two players inside the top 25.
Considering there are likely close to 600 active players in total among the 68-team field, getting two players inside the top 25 is highly impressive. And that’s exactly what the Vols have done according to SB Nation’s calculations.
Senior forward/guard Admiral Schofield checks in at No. 25 on the list, coming in just ahead of players like Michigan’s John Teske (30th) and LSU’s Tremont Waters (28th).
“Schofield is a 6’6″, 240-pound wing who has gotten better all four years he’s been with the Vols,” says SB Nation’s write-up. “As a senior, Schofield has grown into Tennessee’s best three-point shooter while averaging a career-high 16.2 points per game. He’s the perfect co-star for Grant Williams and a big reason why the Vols are a trendy Final Four pick.”
Schofield is shooting an impressive 41.1 percent from three in his final year as a Vol, and he’s connecting on 47.6 percent of his shots overall. The senior is not only averaging 16.2 points per game, but he’s pulling down 6.1 rebounds a game and is dishing out 2.1 assists per game.
But Schofield isn’t the only Vol inside the top-25 of SB Nation’s list. In fact, the other UT player on their list is inside the top five best players in the tournament.
Junior forward Grant Williams checks in at No. 4 on SB Nation’s list. The only players ranked ahead of him are Murray State point guard Ja Morant, Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke, and Duke forward Zion Williamson. Williams checks in ahead of players like Michigan State’s Cassius Winston (8th), Kentucky’s PJ Washington (7th), and Marquette’s Markus Howard (5th).
“Williams won SEC player of the year last season as a sophomore, and somehow improved his numbers across the board during a breakout junior year,” says SB Nation’s write-up. “Williams is a throwback power forward in many ways, finishing inside through contact and drawing fouls. He’s also an imposing defensive player and has made major strides with his jump shot. This is not only the emotional leader of Tennessee; he’s one of the very best players in the country, too. The Vols’ national title hopes run through him.”
As a junior, Williams repeated as the SEC Player of the Year after winning the award last year and has also been named a First-Team All-American. He’s also a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
Williams and Schofield are only the second pair of Tennessee teammates to score 1,500 points in their careers in the same year. The only other UT duo to do that in the same season were Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld when they did so in the 1976-77 season.
Right now, Williams’ 1,580 career points rank 15th all-time in school history, and Schofield’s 1,511 points rank 18th in UT history.