Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes just took a trip over to North Carolina to visit four-star point guard Jalen Cone. Now, Cone has scheduled his own official visit with the Vols.
According to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com, the four-star point guard will be taking an official visit to Knoxville on Mother’s Day weekend starting on May 10th. Cone will likely stay through the weekend while on his trip.
Tennessee will host four-star junior Jalen Cone for an official visit beginning May 10th, a source told @Stockrisers. Could potentially move up to 2019 with the Vols.
Rick Barnes met with Cone early this morning.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) April 21, 2019
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.
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According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Cone is the No. 83 overall player and No. 12 point guard in the 2020 cycle, but there’s a strong possibility he reclassifies to the 2019 class. He has serious interest from Texas A&M, Louisville, Appalachian State, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, and others. Cone just picked up an offer from Texas A&M on Saturday after new head coach Buzz Williams paid him a visit. Williams and Cone had a strong relationship at Virginia Tech before Williams took the job with the Aggies.
Barnes made an in-home visit to see Cone on Saturday morning. The visit was originally supposed to take place on Wednesday of next week, but the two sides pushed up the date a few days earlier. It seems as though Barnes was the first to visit Cone on what was a busy day of hosting coaches for he and his family.
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 and again on Saturday.
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 summer. 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).
Right now, Cone hasn’t fully committed to the idea of reclassifying to the 2019 class, but it appears fairly likely it’ll end up happening. If he does, there’s a strong chance he ends up signing with Tennessee as long as there’s a spot open.
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.