Report: Vols’ “Number One Priority” is Landing Blackshear

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    (Photo via Lee Luther Jr./AP)

    It was reported earlier this week that Tennessee was “trying” to get involved with one of the top grad transfers on the market in men’s basketball. Now, not only are the Vols ramping up their efforts with him, but adding him to the roster is reportedly their top priority.

    According to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com, Tennessee’s “number one priority” is landing Virginia Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. for this upcoming season. Weingarten also adds that UT is hoping to get the talented grad transfer on campus for a visit sometime next week.

    The 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward/center announced his decision to transfer off Virginia Tech’s roster after head coach Buzz Williams left to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M this offseason. He’s already taken a visit to Florida, and he’s visiting Arkansas this weekend.

    Blackshear put his name in the 2019 NBA Draft pool and went through the whole draft process, much like Tennessee’s Grant Williams and Jordan Bone. But unlike Williams and Bone, Blackshear withdrew his name from the draft pool and elected to come back to college for one more season.

    Now, he’s the hottest name on the transfer market.

    Last season, Blackshear averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three, and 73.6 percent from the free throw line in 35 games. Blackshear was named a Second-Team All-ACC performer for the Hokies.

    Blackshear was second on the team in scoring per game and first in rebounds per game for Virginia Tech this past season. He also led the team in blocks with 27. Blackshear’s efforts helped lead Virginia Tech to the most wins in a single season in program history, and the Hokies reached only their second Sweet Sixteen ever in school history.

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    In Virginia Tech’s three NCAA Tournament games against Liberty, St. Louis, and Duke, Blackshear averaged 17.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. During the season, Blackshear eclipsed the 20-point mark seven different times and recorded nine double-doubles.

    Blackshear is considered one of the best passing big men in college basketball, and he racked up four or more assists in nine games this season.

    With all of Tennessee’s losses from their frontcourt off last season’s roster, bringing in an instant impact big man like Blackshear makes sense. The Vols have lost starting center Kyle Alexander and starting forward Grant Williams off this past year’s team, and forward Derrick Walker has also transferred off the team to join Nebraska’s roster.

    But how would Blackshear fit into Tennessee’s team?

    With the Vols signing four players in their 2019 signing class and adding Uros Plavsic and Victor Bailey Jr. as transfers, Tennessee has reached the 13 scholarship limit for the 2019-20 season. Unless someone else on the current roster decides to transfer or if one of the Vols’ four signees can somehow blue shirt this late in the process, there won’t be any room to add Blackshear to this upcoming season’s roster.

    Numbers tend to work themselves out, so it’s likely that head coach Rick Barnes and his staff have a plan if things do progress with Blackshear. Getting him on campus for a visit would be huge, and Tennessee appears to be legitimate contenders with him.



    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.