This weekend, Tennessee hosted the top name on the grad transfer market in men’s basketball. By all accounts, the visit went well, and now the Vols are being called one of the projected finalists for his services.
Virginia Tech grad transfer forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. has already visited Florida and Arkansas, and he arrived on UT’s campus on Friday to begin an official visit in Knoxville. He’s reportedly been considering taking a visit to Lexington to check out Kentucky, and Texas A&M has reportedly been in the mix for Blackshear’s services as well. There have also been recent reports that Memphis is trying to get into the battle for Blackshear.
One prominent national writer isn’t buying the Memphis hype, though. And he thinks UT is one of three schools most likely to land Blackshear once it’s all said and done.
Chris Dortch is the editor for Blue Ribbon College Basketball and is a contributor for NBA.com and NBA TV. He’s also an adjunct professor at UT-Chattanooga. According to him, Blackshear’s final choices will come down to Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Kentucky.
Don’t buy the Kerry Blackshear/Memphis rumors. His final choices will come down to Texas A&M, Kentucky and Tennessee. One way or another, @Vol_Hoops fans will see him play in TBA. He’s one of the most impactful players in the grad transfer era.
— Chris Dortch (@cdortch) June 16, 2019
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. There’s a chance that Blackshear could return to Virginia Tech for his final season, and Texas A&M has also been involved with him since they now have his head coach from the Hokies. Dortch believes that the Aggies have done enough already to be considered one of Blackshear’s top teams.
Neither Kentucky nor Texas A&M have gotten an official visit from Blackshear yet, but it’s very possible he schedules a visit to one or both of those schools in the coming days.
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 points per game and first in rebounds per game for Virginia Tech this past season. He also led the team in total 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.
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. He has 13 career 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. He was actually third on the team in assists per game, finishing behind guards Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Right now, the Vols have all of their scholarship spots full for the upcoming 2019-20 season. That means that in order for Tennessee to add Blackshear — if he does, indeed, choose the Vols — someone off the current roster would have to transfer.
Tennessee has already had one player transfer off the team this offseason. Forward Derrick Walker announced his decision to transfer to Nebraska last month. The Vols also lost starting center Kyle Alexander and starting forward Grant Williams to the NBA Draft, leaving their frontcourt with a lot of holes and questions.
The Vols are right at the 13 scholarship limit for the 2019-20 season after signing four players in their 2019 recruiting class and adding two transfers this offseason. Tennessee signed five-star guard Josiah Jordan-James, four-star forward Olivia Robinson-Nkamhoua, three-star forward Drew Pember, and three-star small forward Davonte Gaines in their 2019 signing class, and the Vols also brought in Arizona State center Uros Plavsic and Oregon guard Victory Bailey Jr. as transfers.