Vol Targets Impress at USA Basketball Camp

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    (Photo via USA Basketball Junior National Teams)

    A number of Tennessee’s targets on the recruiting trail were participating in the USA Basketball mini-camp over the weekend, and several of them caught the eye of the analysts in attendance.

    According to Eric Bossi and Corey Evans of Rivals.com, there were a handful of Vol targets who really impressed with their play during the mini-camp. One of the most impressive prospects was Tennessee’s top remaining target, four-star guard Keon Johnson.

    In their article giving out “Rivals Awards” to prospects in attendance, Evans and Bossi gave Johnson, the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee in the 2020 class, the “Likely Five-Star” award.

    “A bouncy and quick two guard from Tennessee, Johnson has been on the cusp of five-star status for a while now,” the analysts stated. “After his performance in Colorado Springs, it’s going to be hard to deny him the fifth star in our next rankings update. He’s improved significantly as a ball handler and passer, is a monster on the defensive end and his jumper continues to get more consistent.”

    On both Rivals and 247Sports, Johnson — who plays for The Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN — is just outside of five-star range as of now. He’s the No. 34 overall prospect in the Rivals rankings, and he comes in at No. 27 overall in 247Sports’ ratings. The five-star cut-off point in Rivals’ 2020 ratings is at No. 25 overall (Josh Hall), and the lowest-rated five-star in 247Sports’ rankings comes in at No. 24 overall (Cameron Thomas).

    Johnson didn’t just impress the analysts at Rivals, though. He stood out enough to be named MVP of the entire mini-camp.

    Johnson is announcing his college commitment on August 6th. He’s choosing between Tennessee and Ohio State.

    But Johnson wasn’t the only Vol target that caught the eye of both Bossi and Evans.

    Kennedy Chandler, the top player in the state of Tennessee in the 2021 class, also grabbed attention with his play. The four-star point guard from Memphis picked up an offer from the Vols back on May 1st, and he’s gotten even more interest since then, adding offers from Memphis, Arizona, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and Kansas since mid-July.

    Both Evans and Bossi awarded Chandler the “Playmaker” award for his ability to create plays for himself off the dribble and his ability to get open shots for his teammates.

    “It would be hard to argue that any guard more consistently made plays off the dribble for himself and others,” Rivals said of Chandler’s play. “Chandler is sneaky quick and athletic but his greatest gift is the ability to make quality decisions at full speed. It’s one thing to play fast, but to play at the speed he does while rarely turning the ball over or making poor decisions. He had a huge summer leading MoKan Elite to a Peach Jam title and was terrific in Colorado Springs.”

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    Chandler is rated as the No. 28 overall player and No. 3 point guard in the 247Sports Composite rankings. The Briarcrest Christian product is the early No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee for the 2021 cycle.

    Another one of Tennessee’s point guard targets also impressed not only for this athleticism and speed, but also for his increased leadership.

    Caleb Love, a five-star point guard in the 2020 class who plays for Christian Brothers College in St. Louis, was given the “Mr. Ambiguous” award by Rivals. Tennessee extended an offer to Love back on May 8th, and he’s added offers from North Carolina and Kansas in the meantime. It’s expected Love will be announcing his list of finalists sometime soon as well.

    “Caleb Love is a baller, that we know. Close to finalizing his final school list, he could practically choose whichever college he’d like to attend and they’d willingly accept with open arms,” Rivals sais of Love. “Known for his physical tenacity and athleticism in the backcourt, Love is evolving into the lead guard role thanks to his improved playmaking skills and also his ability to consistently make shots to the perimeter. He is an absolute blur with the basketball and remains at his best whenever he is in attack mode but seeing him take a vocal leadership mentality is definitely a step in the right direction.”

    The 6-foot-3, 170-pound point guard is the No. 25 overall player and No. 4 point guard in the 2020 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He’s also the No. 1 player in the state of Missouri.

    While all the targets mentioned previously have been guards, one of Tennessee’s targets in the frontcourt also impressed over the weekend.

    Paolo Banchero is a five-star power forward in the 2021 class, and his recruitment is really starting to heat up. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Seattle, Washington is already a top-10 recruit in the 2021 class, and he was awarded “The Teacher” award by Rivals.

    “School was in session courtesy of Banchero each and every time he caught the ball,” the two analysts wrote. “Whether he’s posted up with his back to the basket or catching and facing in the high post he has an assortment of moves, counter moves and fundamental skills that are as good as it gets for a 16 year old power forward. On top of that he’s tough, makes the right decisions and loves to compete.”

    Banchero said in a recent interview that he’s considering taking an official visit to see the Vols sometime later this year. Tennessee offered him back on July 2nd, and he’s added offers from Gonzaga, Duke, and North Carolina since then. He also holds an offer from Kentucky.

    The Seattle power forward is the No. 4 overall prospect and No. 1 power forward in the 2021 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    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.