A month ago, five-star power forward Paolo Banchero was trying to decide which school in the state of Tennessee he would take an official visit to. It was down to Memphis and Tennessee for his final official visit slot this fall.
“Memphis and Tennessee, I’m kinda deciding which one,” Banchero explained back in late July in an interview with HoopSeen TV. “They’re both in the same state, so I’m just kinda deciding which one I want to go to.”
Now, Banchero has made that decision.
Banchero posted to his Twitter account on Tuesday that he will be using one of his five official visits this fall to see Tennessee. The Vols will be getting an official visit along with Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Gonzaga. Memphis was left out of his visit list.
Official Visit Dates
North Carolina🐏: September 27-29
Kentucky⚪️🔵: October 11-13
Duke🔵😈: October 17-20
Tennessee🍊: October 25-27
Gonzaga🐶⬇️: January 18-19
— Paolo (Paul-Oh) (@Pp_doesit) August 20, 2019
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Seattle, Washington is rated as the No. 4 overall prospect and No. 1 power forward in the 2021 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Banchero has a good relationship with Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes already, and he detailed that in a post on USA Today High School Sports. Banchero is running a blog for USA Today High School Sports, and he mentioned being impressed by Barnes in a recent post.
“I think the coolest conversation I had with a coach recently was when I talked to Coach Rick Barnes from Tennessee,” Banchero wrote.” We just talked about everyday stuff, and then he asked me if I had a girlfriend. I told him yes, and then he said is she cute. Haha!
“Of course, I said yes, and then he said he was sure she wouldn’t mind me coming to Knoxville, Tennessee. I thought it was cool that we talked about things like that other than basketball. That’s what I like most about getting to know these coaches.”
In that same post, Banchero discussed the possibility of him reclassifying from the 2021 class to the 2020 class. According to the five-star, there’s a very good chance he makes that move and ends up part of the 2020 cycle.
“By now, most of you have probably heard that I’m considering reclassifying from 2021 to 2020. I just feel like I’m getting better and better, and in a year I’m confident that I’ll be ready for college,” Banchero wrote. “I have a lot to think about, though, but I’ll keep you guys posted here on my blog.”
Tennessee’s main power forward target in the 2020 cycle is four-star PJ Hall out of South Carolina, but the Vols have worked their way into Banchero’s recruitment and now appear to be solid contenders for him.
But just because Banchero is visiting these five schools this upcoming season doesn’t mean those are his top programs.
“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 in the same interview with HoopSeen TV. “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.”
On the court, Banchero is a phenom. He has smooth handles for a big man, and he already possesses a variety of offensive skills other than just powering ahead in the paint and finishing at the rim with dunks. He has a good release on his jump shot, and he has the ability to fight through traffic and make difficult shots look easy. On defense, he shows good movement and the ability to guard the paint well. He’s quick for his size and has superb awareness and basketball IQ.
Banchero played for Seattle Rotary in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this spring and summer, and he was a standout during the AAU circuit. In 18 total games with Rotary in April, May, and July, Banchero averaged 22.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game according to D1Circuit.com. He shot 49.6 percent from the floor and 77.3 percent from the free throw line on 154 free throw attempts. He posted two triple-doubles and nine double-doubles during the EYBL.
The 6-foot-9 five-star won MVP of the NBPA Top 100 Camp this summer and won Underclassmen of the Year in the Nike EYBL
If Banchero ends up reclassifying to the 2020 class, the Vols will likely push even harder for him. Tennessee has a need for big men to come in and contribute immediately, and Banchero certainly fits that bill.
Tennessee currently has commitments from two five-star prospects in their 2020 class. Shooting guard Keon Johnson, the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee, and small forward Corey Walker have both pledged their services to the Vols in the 2020 cycle.