Five-Star Guard Lists Vols Among Finalists

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    (Photo via Gregory Payan/AP Photo)

    Tennessee’s men’s basketball program is recruiting at a whole new level under head coach Rick Barnes. The Vols signed five-star guard Josiah Jordan-James and four-star power forward Olivier Robinson-Nkamhoua in their 2019 class, and they currently have borderline five-star small forward Corey Walker committed to them in their 2020 class. More good news on the recruiting front came at the beginning of this week, too.

    On Monday, one of the top overall players in the 2020 cycle announced that UT is one of his finalists moving forward in his recruitment.

    Jaden Springer, a five-star shooting guard who plays for the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, announced via Twitter on Monday his five finalists in his recruitment. The Vols were included along with North Carolina, Memphis, Michigan, and Florida. Springer previously had a list of his top 11 schools back in mid-May, but six teams were cut from that list for his group of finalists.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Springer is the No. 11 overall player and No. 3 shooting guard in the 2020 class. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Springer originally hails from Mint Hill, North Carolina where he played for Rocky River High School. He was the No. 1 player in the state of North Carolina before he transferred to IMG Academy.

    Springer only took one official visit in the spring, and it was to Knoxville. He’s taken unofficial visits to Tennessee before and has unofficially visited other schools, but so far the Vols are the only team to get an official visit from him in 2019.

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    Rick Barnes and UT’s staff have made Springer a priority for a long time, but blue bloods like North Carolina and Villanova came calling in late spring this year. Springer already held offers from schools like Kansas and Michigan State, but he’s garnered even more interest over the last few months. Mike White at Florida has made Springer a big focal point on the recruiting trail lately as well, as has Penny Hardaway at Memphis.

    Still, the Vols have had a relationship with Springer for quite a while, and it’s clear he likes what he’s seen at UT.

    Springer’s highlights are so fun to watch. He has a nasty mid-range game that is extremely difficult to guard. He can stop on a dime and pull-up for his shot, and he can hit fadeaway jumpers as well. He can score at all three levels, and his strength is a big asset. He has really good ball-handling skills and solid awareness on the court. He’s an exceptional all-around player, and it’s very easy to see why he’s considered one of the top players in high school in the 2020 class.

    This past season for IMG Academy, Springer averaged 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game according to He shot 55.5 percent from the floor overall, 30.3 percent from three, and an impressive 90.9 percent from the free throw line.

    This spring, Springer played with the B. Maze Elite team in the AAU circuit just like he did last year. The spring/summer AAU team was started by former Vol Bobby Maze. In seven recorded games for the B. Maze Elite this year, Springer averaged 18.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting 51.8 percent overall, 36.7 percent from three, and 85.3 percent from the free throw line according to the Under Armour Association’s website.

    Tennessee has signed five-star shooting guards before, though it’s been a while. Robert Hubbs III was rated as a five-star shooting guard and the No. 20 overall player by the 247Sports Composite rankings back in the 2013 recruiting class. Scotty Hopson was also a five-star shooting guard in the 2008 class. Jordan McRae and Ramar Smith were both rated as top-40 overall players and high profile shooting guards when UT signed them as well.

    The Vols are also finalists for borderline five-star shooting guard and No. 1 overall in-state prospect Keon Johnson. The star guard from Bell Buckle, TN has Tennessee, Virginia, and Ohio State as his three finalists, and he’s announcing his decision on August 6th.

    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.