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Vols to Visit 5-Star Forward on Friday

(Photo via @Pp_doesit on Twitter)

Tennessee’s football coaches are going hither and yon to visit recruits now that the regular season is over, but they aren’t the only coaches on UT’s campus going across the country to visit prospects.

According to Jake Weingarten of Stock Risers, Tennessee’s men’s basketball program will be sending an assistant coach over to Seattle, Washington to visit with five-star power forward Paolo Banchero on Friday.

Banchero and his high school team, O’Dea High School, begin their 2019-20 season on Friday. Tennessee will have a presence at the game when the top junior power forward in the country takes the court for the first time this high school basketball season.

According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Banchero is the No. 1 power forward and No. 3 overall prospect in the 2021 class. The only recruits ranked higher than Banchero are small forwards Jonathan Kuminga and Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Tennessee has made Banchero a huge priority in the 2021 cycle, and the Vols are positioned well with the star forward. Banchero included the Vols as one of his top nine teams back in mid-September along with Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Memphis, Georgetown, Washington, and Baylor.

Gonzaga already visited Banchero on Monday of this week, and both North Carolina (Dec. 11) and Duke (Dec. 16) will make a trip to see Banchero in the next couple weeks as well.

The Vols hosted Banchero on an official visit on October 25th when the football team played South Carolina. Banchero was on his visit at the same time as five-star 2021 point guard Kennedy Chandler, too.

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 post.

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“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.”

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 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 five-star won MVP of the NBPA Top 100 Camp this summer and won Underclassmen of the Year in the Nike EYBL.

Tennessee doesn’t currently have any commitments in the 2021 class, but they signed three prospects in the 2020 cycle and have another 2020 recruit committed to them currently. Five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson and four-star small forward Corey Walker all signed with the Vols, and four-star point guard Santiago Vescovi is currently committed to UT and is expected to try and enroll in January.

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