When it comes to recruiting, most of the focus from Vol fans is on the 2020 recruiting cycle. Tennessee’s men’s basketball coaching staff is in on several highly-rated targets in the 2020 class, and there’s a lot of excitement surrounding UT’s efforts. But Tennessee is also in a good spot with some high profile recruits in the 2021 class, and they could be getting official visits in the fall from two of the top players in that cycle.
Both five-star power forward Paolo Banchero and four-star point guard Cam Hayes could be making their way to Tennessee’s campus in the near future. The Vols have been in on Hayes for a while, and Banchero picked up an offer from Tennessee on July 2nd of this year.
In an interview with HoopSeen TV on Friday, Banchero was asked about his recruitment and his upcoming visit plans. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Seattle, Washington said that he plans on taking a break in August then gearing things up again. Once he does, he plans on taking some official visits to places he can’t normally visit.
“My five schools I visit, those won’t be my top five or anything. I just wanna go to schools that are far away,” Banchero stated. “Schools that are close by, I can go kinda anytime. So I just wanna get out there and see them because I can’t just see them any time.”
So what schools will be getting visits from him?
Banchero said that both Duke and Kentucky will be getting visits, and right now he’s trying to decide between Memphis and Tennessee for one of his other official visits.
“Memphis and Tennessee, I’m kinda deciding which one,” Banchero explained. “They’re both in the same state, so I’m just kinda deciding which one I want to go to.”
Banchero is rated as the No. 1 power forward in the 2021 class and the No. 4 overall prospect according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He holds early offers from Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Memphis, Oklahoma, and Washington among others.
When it comes time to pick a school, Banchero said his comfort with the coaching staff and the school overall will be the most important factor. He said he doesn’t get homesick, so distance won’t be a factor.
He’s also planning to pay much closer attention to the teams recruiting him this upcoming season.
“I can say this year, I’m definitely going to be paying a lot more attention to college basketball, watching the teams that I’m being recruited by,” Banchero explained. “Usually, I watch as a fan. Now, I’m gonna be more locked into it. But also just a place I’m comfortable being there every day, that feels like a family. If I’m comfortable with the staff there, from the head coach to the janitor, like I’m just comfortable there.
“I’m not the type to get homesick, so distance don’t really affect me. So it’s just a place I can go and really just feel like I can fit.”
As for Hayes, there’s a chance he could become a target for the Vols in the 2020 class rather than the 2021 cycle.
There’s been lots of discussion about the four-star point guard from Greensboro, North Carolina reclassifying from the 2021 class to the 2020 class. He already visited Tennessee on an unofficial trip back in late October last year, and he could be taking an official visit this fall to see the Vols.
According to Dan McDonald of Rivals.com, Hayes has visits with Louisville and Maryland already set up in August, and Tennessee is set to get an official visit in September along with a couple other schools.
Maryland has recently entered the mix for Hayes, and they could be a big competitor for his services regardless of which class Hayes ends up in.
“Hayes mentioned that since offering him a couple weeks ago the Terps staff has been relentlessly recruiting him,” McDonald said. “The North Carolina native also mentioned Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest as schools involved in his recruitment.
“He has visits in August set with Louisville and Maryland, and he plans to take official visits to Florida State, NC State and Tennessee in September.”
With Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden set to graduate after the 2019-20 season, Hayes is a big target for Tennessee’s backcourt. He could provide an instant boost if he reclassifies to the 2020 class, or he could be an addition for the future of the Vols’ point guard position if he remains in the 2021 class. That is, assuming Tennessee can beat out all the teams vying for his signature.
Hayes is currently rated as the No. 30 overall player and No. 4 point guard in the 2020 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Tennessee doesn’t currently have any players committed to them in their 2021 class, but high four-star small forward Corey Walker is committed to the Vols in the 2020 class.