Rick Barnes to Visit Four-Star PG Jalen Cone

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    (Photo via Prep Hoops)

    Jalen Cone’s recruitment is starting to get a little crazy.

    The four-star point guard out of North Carolina was already receiving plenty of attention from schools, but then the possibility of reclassifying from the 2020 class to the 2019 class became an option for him, and now several schools are putting on the full court press for him.

    Tennessee was one of the first schools to bring up the idea of Cone reclassifying, and now UT’s head coach will be making a visit to see the talented point guard.

    According to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com, Rick Barnes is expected to make an in-home visit to see Cone on Wednesday, April 24th. Buzz Williams had a strong relationship with Cone while he was the head coach at Virginia Tech, and he’s hoping that relationship can carry over to his new job at Texas A&M and will visit Cone next week as well. Wake Forest is also making a strong push.

    UPDATE: Jake Weingarten followed up his original tweet late Friday night with an addendum. Rick Barnes will now be visiting Cone on Saturday morning instead of Wednesday.

    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. They’re hoping to add him to their roster if a spot comes open.

    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 Texas A&M, Louisville, Appalachian State, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, and others.

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    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 earlier this month to see 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. Tennessee also signed three-star power forward Drew Pember and three-star small forward Davonte Gaines in the fall signing period.

    Currently, Tennessee doesn’t have an open scholarship spot for Cone on their roster, but there’s a strong possibility that changes in the next few months. Point guard Jordan Bone and forward Grant Williams are both going through the NBA Draft process, and both seem likely to stay in the draft pool at this point.

    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 spring signing period for the 2019 class began on April 17th and runs through May 15th. But Cone can sign at any point over the summer as long as he’s part of the signing class in time to enroll in classes in the fall.



    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.