Tennessee’s backcourt is expected to be extremely crowded for the 2020-21 season, and one veteran wing player has decided to try his luck somewhere else rather than fighting for minutes at UT next season.
According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, redshirt junior wing Jalen Johnson has put his name in the NCAA transfer portal as a grad transfer. Johnson completed his degree in Communication Studies in December and has one year of immediate eligibility to play elsewhere.
Tennessee basketball guard Jalen Johnson has entered the transfer portal as a grad transfer. Made two starts this season.
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) March 23, 2020
Johnson saw a more expanded role for the Vols during the 2019-20 season, playing in all 31 games and making two starts. He averaged 15.6 minutes, 3.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists while shooting 37 percent overall and 31.9 percent from three.
The 6-foot-6 wing player from Durham, North Carolina scored a career-high 13 points in a road loss to Mississippi State on February 1st, chipping in five assists, four steals, and three rebounds in the contest.
After starting the year as a seldom-used player off the bench, Johnson saw his role grow as Tennessee entered SEC play. Johnson played a career-high 29 minutes in the Vols’ road victory over Missouri on January 7th, and he eclipsed the 20-minute mark in 10 of his final 20 games, including making both of his starts in the process. In that 20-game stretch, Johnson averaged 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists. 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 18.8 minutes while making 37.7 percent of his shots and 34 percent of his threes.
In his Tennessee career, Johnson appeared in 70 games and made two starts, averaging 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds a game in 10 minutes a contest. He made 35.8 percent of his 95 career three-point attempts.
Next season, Tennessee will have a backcourt loaded full of talent. Along with Johnson, the Vols lose graduating seniors Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, but they return starting point guard Santiago Vescovi and starting guard Josiah-Jordan James. Oregon transfer Victor Bailey Jr. will also be eligible after sitting out this past season, and the Vols welcome in five-stars Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson onto the roster in the backcourt. Four-star small forward Corey Walker is also capable of playing on the wing.
With Johnson’s expected departure, the Vols are set to return three rising scholarship seniors for next year’s team. John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, and Jacob Fleschman will be the most experienced players on UT’s roster for the 2020-21 season.