RTI contributor Murphy Carlton is the author of this article
Tennessee forward Zach Kent stepped away from the Tennessee men’s basketball program back on Nov. 20, leaving his future up in the air. It was unclear at the time what would happen next with Kent and the Vols, but things became a little clearer on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-11, 235 pound forward has entered the NCAA transfer portal, according to 247Sports’ sources.
Head coach Rick Barnes was asked about Kent stepping away after the Vols defeated Chattanooga 58-46 back on Nov. 25. Barnes stated that he did not expect Kent to rejoin the team, claiming that Kent had stepped away from basketball.
Now, it appears basketball might still be in Kent’s future if he intends to transfer.
“He just felt like he needed to step away from basketball,” Barnes said at the time. “Whatever Zach decides to do, we will support him.”
Although he was no longer a part of the team, Kent stayed enrolled at Tennessee while weighing his options for his future. With the spring semester due to start in less than a month, Kent made the decision to go ahead and look for somewhere else to continue his academic and athletic careers.
This move for Kent doesn’t come as a big surprise, as he struggled to find his way into the rotation in his time at Tennessee. The 6-foot-11 forward played a combined 10 minutes in games against UNC Asheville and Murray State to begin the 2019-20 season. Kent was active for the game against Washington but did not see the court as the Vols beat the Huskies 75-62.
In the previous three seasons, Kent saw action in four games and averaged 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per game. He sat out last season, choosing to take a redshirt year with hopes of being a bigger contributor in the 2019-2020 season.
Losing a player with Kent’s height puts the Vols at an even bigger disadvantage height-wise. The Vols are still without 7-footer Uros Plavsic as he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA after transferring in from Arizona State. Tennessee has since appealed this ruling a second time but has not heard anything back from the NCAA regarding their appeal.
The Vols are now down to three options in the post. Redshirt junior John Fulkerson and freshmen Olivier Nkamhoua and Drew Pember are UT’s three scholarship players measuring in at 6-foot-8 or taller. Junior wing Yves Pons has been playing as an undersized four at times, however, and the 6-foot-6 athlete is having a breakout year so far.
The Vols will take on Memphis Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in Thompson Boiling Arena.