Report: Rick Barnes Visits with Elite Point Guard

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    (Photo via Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

    Later this week, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes is expected to check in on two of the top players in the state of Tennessee. On Sunday morning, Barnes was reportedly seeing one of them already.

    According to Jake Weingarten of, Barnes was in to watch elite in-state point guard Kennedy Chandler on Sunday morning as he played during Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League. In high school, Chandler plays for Briarcrest Christian over in Memphis.

    Per 247Sports, Chandler is the early No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee in the 2021 class and is rated as the No. 21 overall prospect and No. 2 point guard in the 2021 class. Chandler just finished up his sophomore season of basketball, but he’s already receiving a ton of attention and hype.

    Chandler is starting to get interest from schools like Kentucky, Duke, Illinois, and St. John’s 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.

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    Barnes is reportedly set to visit Kennedy and four-star shooting guard Matthew Murrell of the 2020 class in Memphis on Wednesday of this week. But Barnes wanted to see Kennedy himself first before visiting both high priority prospects.

    Though he’s just 6-foot-1 and only a sophomore, Chandler is already a match-up problem for teams. He’s quick and can create his own shot at all three levels of the court. Chandler is capable of hitting threes but tends to use his quickness and play-making ability to drive to the hoop. Once there, he’s good at finishing, but he can also dish the ball back out and find open teammates. He has good vision and exceptional passing ability all over the court.

    As a sophomore for Briarcrest Christian, Chandler averaged 19.5 points, four rebounds, 3.6 steals, and three assists per game according to MaxPreps. He was also voted TSSAA Division II Class AA Mr. Basketball this season.

    The 2021 recruiting cycle is still a ways away from being the most relevant class in recruiting, but the basketball recruiting calendar operates more ahead of schedule than the football recruiting timeline typically. Barnes and Tennessee’s coaching staff have been scouting 2021 prospects for a year or more already, and they’ll continue to pay attention to recruits in that class as they also attempt to round out UT’s 2019 class and look to add more prospects to the 2020 class.

    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.