Two weeks ago, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said he would be surprised if the Vols experienced any more roster movement than what they’ve already had this offseason. Now, it appears as though a transfer off the roster could occur after all.
According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, sophomore forward Derrick Walker has put his name into the NCAA transfer portal.
Tennessee basketball forward Derrick Walker has put his name into the NCAA transfer portal, per source
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) May 1, 2019
Walker, a 6-foot-8, 236-pound forward from Kansas City, Missouri, signed with Tennessee out of Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas and joined the Vols prior to the 2017-18 season. As a freshman, Walker appeared in 34 of the Vols’ 35 games and showed signs of growth and progress as the season went along.
As a sophomore, though, Walker’s playing time actually decreased.
Walker appeared in just 30 of Tennessee’s 37 games this past season, and he averaged only 5.3 minutes per game after averaging 8.8 minutes a game as a freshman. The sophomore didn’t play in two of the Vols’ three NCAA Tournament games and didn’t play in UT’s first game of the SEC Tournament against Mississippi State. Walker failed to play more than six minutes in any game in the month of February onward.
In his 5.3 minutes of play per game this season, Walker averaged 0.8 points and 1.1 rebounds while making 10 of his 19 field goals. As a freshman, Walker averaged 1.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 8.8 minutes a game, making 28 of his 47 shot attempts.
Walker has not decided to transfer as of yet, however. His name is merely reportedly in the transfer portal, but he can still pull his name out of the portal and stay with the Vols if he so chooses.
If Walker does elect to transfer, though, that will free up another scholarship spot for Tennessee for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
Right now, Tennessee doesn’t have a free spot open for the upcoming season. If both Grant Williams and Jordan Bone decide to keep their names in the NBA Draft pool and both get drafted into the NBA, then the Vols will have two scholarships open up because of their departures. As of now, though, the Vols are full on scholarships for the 2019-20 season after signing three players in their 2019 recruiting class in the fall.
Tennessee has been pursuing options to add to their 2019-20 roster in case Bone and Williams do stay in the NBA Draft pool and in case any other roster spot opens up, though. The Vols remain in discussions with 2020 point guard Jalen Cone about reclassifying to the 2019 class, and Tennessee is thought to be a “dark horse” for Virginia Tech grad transfer center/forward Kerry Blackshear. The Vols are also in the mix for three-star 2019 power forward Olivier Robinson-Nkamhoua as a potential spring signee.
We will update as more information becomes available.