Report: Barnes to Visit Two Four-Star, In-State Guards

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    Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

    Memphis has historically been a difficult area for Tennessee’s men’s basketball team to recruit, but Rick Barnes and his staff are doing what they can to try and land some talented players from that area.

    According to John Martin of The Athletic and 929 ESPN in Memphis, Barnes will be making a visit to see four-star 2020 shooting guard Matthew Murrell and four-star 2021 point guard Kennedy Chandler next Wednesday. Murrell plays for Whitehaven while Chandler plays for Briarcrest Christian.

    Two weeks ago, Murrell stated that Tennessee was one of the main schools “prioritizing” him in his recruitment, pointing out the Vols along with Memphis, Ole Miss, and NC State. Chandler has started to blow up on the recruiting trail, and though he’s just now finishing up his sophomore year of high school, he’s reeling in tons of high-major offers and has already taken an unofficial visit to Tennessee.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Murrell is the No. 86 overall player and No. 2 player in the state of Tennessee in the 2020 class. The composite rankings don’t have Chandler rated yet, but the regular 247Sports rankings have him as the early No. 1 overall player in the state of Tennessee and the No. 21 overall prospect in the 2021 class.

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    Chandler is starting to get interest from schools like Kentucky and Duke to go along with teams like Memphis, Tennessee, and Florida that have already been showing the borderline five-star point guard a lot of attention. As a sophomore, Chandler helped lead Briarcrest Christian to a state title and won MVP honors in the process. He was also invited to USA Basketball’s April Mini-Camp, which serves as a precursor to the U16 trials later this spring.

    Murrell is known more as a defensive standout at the high school level, but he’s improved his offensive game more and more and is starting to flourish there as well. His defense, however, is elite.

    When Whitehaven played East High School for the district title this past season, the 6-foot-4 Murrell was matched up with 7-foot-1 James Wiseman a lot. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Wiseman is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 class who signed with Memphis recently. On paper, it looked like a mismatch that Wiseman should’ve been able to exploit easily.

    In reality, though, Murrell and Whitehaven got the better of Wiseman and East.

    Whitehaven ended up winning 58-55 and winning the district title. That was thanks in large part to Murrell’s efforts on defense against Wiseman. He stymied Wiseman on the potential game-winning shot and kept the five-star in check the whole game.

    Pulling either Murrell or Chandler away from Memphis will be tough. Murrell has received very strong interest from the hometown Tigers ever since Penny Hardaway took over as head coach, and Chandler is likely going to have his pick of any college program in the country.

    The Vols have signed only a handful of players from Memphis over the last two decades. The most recent Memphis player to sign and play with Tennessee was Jarnell Stokes, donning the orange and white from 2011-14. The Vols have also reeled in Memphis products such as Dane Bradshaw (2003-07), Tony Harris (1997-2001), Scooter McFadgon (2003-05), JP Prince (2007-10), and Terrence Woods (1999-2001).

    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.