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Blackshear Has Reportedly “Narrowed His Choices” to Vols and UK

(Photo via Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

The ongoing Kerry Blackshear saga has taken another twist, but it looks like an end to the drama could be coming soon.

According to Gene Henley of the Times Free Press, Virginia Tech grad transfer forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. has “narrowed his choices” to just Tennessee and Kentucky. Blackshear spent the last two days on an official visit to Lexington, and he took an official visit to Knoxville over this past weekend. He’s also officially visited Arkansas and Florida, and Henley states that Blackshear will visit Texas A&M and his former head coach this weekend. Henley also doesn’t rule out a visit to Michigan for Blackshear, and he reports that a decision is expected next week from the coveted grad transfer.

It’s interesting that Blackshear has reportedly narrowed down his choices to Tennessee and Kentucky but is still looking to visit other places. Maybe those visits get canceled, or maybe Blackshear follows through and takes both. Only time will tell.

UPDATE (6-20-19): Henley has since added more context since his initial report about Blackshear narrowing down his focus to Tennessee and Kentucky.

Henley added that the visit to Texas A&M is likely a “courtesy” to his former head coach and that Michigan is trying to push for a visit still.

On Thursday, Henley expanded upon Tennessee’s sales pitch to Blackshear, claiming that the grad transfer likes UT’s guards and “could potentially see himself fitting in well” to the lineup. Henley also states that anyone writing off Tennessee is “wrong.” He also adds that Blackshear has a “win now” mentality, and that likely eliminates returning to Virginia Tech.

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. Since then, it’s been a free-for-all for his services.

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.

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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. 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.

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