Junior point guard Jordan Bone announced last week that he is declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft with the intention of keeping his name in the draft pool. It appears Tennessee’s coaching staff believes the talented point guard will hold true to his word, because they’re amping up their pursuit of a potential future replacement for Bone at point guard.
According to a report from Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com, Tennessee is offering four-star point guard Jalen Cone the option of reclassifying from the 2020 class to the 2019 class. That move would make him eligible to play immediately in the upcoming 2019-20 season, and it would mean Tennessee or any other team pursuing him could sign him in the upcoming spring signing period.
Cone is a 5-foot-11 point guard who plays for Walkertown High School in Walkertown, North Carolina. He’s been on Tennessee’s radar for a while, and the Vols are making him a big priority here in the final stretch run of the 2019 cycle.
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Cone is the No. 83 overall player and No. 12 point guard in the 2020 cycle. He has serious interest from Louisville, Appalachian State, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, Yale, and others.
The athletic point guard visited Tennessee back in October, and he was supposed to make it in for the Vols’ match-up with Kentucky in Knoxville this season, but a deep playoff run for his high school team prevented him from making it in. The Vols officially offered Cone on March 30th, and Tennessee went over to Walkertown on Thursday to visit him.
Cone measures in just under 6-feet tall, but what he lacks in elite size, he more than makes up for with his play on the court.
The dynamic point guard is a scoring machine, and he has regularly topped the 30 and 40-point threshold as a sophomore and junior in high school. He has a very good pull-up jumper and has a nice, compact stroke on his shots that gives him a quick release. Cone has very good ball-handling skills and is very tough to guard thanks to that and his speed. He’s not just an offensive force, though; Cone has some pretty good defensive skills and awareness. He can also leap out of the gym. Cone can sky for blocks and can dunk the ball even at his smaller stature.
Here are some highlights from a game this past season where he dropped 50 points on a team:
And here’s another look at his athleticism from his junior year:
In 27 games as a junior this season, Cone averaged 25.7 points and 6.6 assists per game while shooting 73 percent from the field according to MaxPreps. He also recorded a triple-double this season.
The Vols signed five-star guard Josiah James in their 2019 class, and he’ll join UT this upcoming season. James is more than capable of playing point guard and will get plenty of playing time there, but he’s versatile enough to play other positions as well.
On the roster right now, the only player with experience as a point guard is rising senior Lamonte Turner. But Turner is more effective off the ball than as the primary ball handler, though he was plenty efficient at distributing this past season. Turner set career-highs in assists per game (3.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.50).
The upcoming spring signing period for the 2019 class begins on April 17th and runs through May 15th.