Every time Tennessee gets a commitment in either football or men’s basketball, we will write up an impact report looking at what that recruit does well, what we feel can be improved, and what his projected impact with the Vols could be over the next few years.
Latest Commit: EJ Anosike, F
Height/Weight: 6-foot-6, 245 pounds
School: Paramus Catholic (New Jersey), St. Thomas More Academy
Home Town: East Orange, NJ
15.7 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 48.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 33 Games, 33.2 MPG
Notable Transfer Options: Gonzaga, Louisville, Georgetown, Georgia
What we like:
Watching highlight film of Anosike, he reminds me so much of a hybrid of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. I don’t know that he’ll have a similar impact on the Vols as either of those two did in their junior and senior year, respectively, but his body is thick and muscle-bound like theirs was, and he plays with a similar style as Williams especially. At 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, Anosike isn’t easy to move and can play against post players taller than him. He has a strong base and does all the dirty work on the court; he’ll scrap for rebounds, fight for loose balls, and attack the basket no matter how he can.
Anosike is violent in the paint and draws a lot of fouls, something Williams did very effectively. Anosike shot 184 free throws last year, which is 33 more than Tennessee’s leading free throw shooter this past season, John Fulkerson. The bulky forward seems to have magnets on his hands that attract rebounds, and he’s especially good at grabbing offensive boards, averaging 4.2 offensive rebounds a game last season and 3.0 per game in his career. He’s grabbed double digit rebounds in 31 games in his career, including coming down with 22 boards against LIU on February 15th of this past season.
While Anosike will definitely make his living in the post, don’t count him out in the mid-range game or from three. He won’t light it up from distance, but he’s more than capable of hitting threes and stretching the floor. Defensively, he’s capable and has some rim protecting qualities like Yves Pons, though Pons is much more adept at that. And Anosike does all this and plays physically without getting in foul trouble often. He only averaged 2.2 fouls a game as a junior for Sacred Heart, and he only fouled out of one game and finished with four fouls in just two other contests.
Places to improve:
Though he’s capable of hitting shots from three, Anosike’s deep shot is inconsistent, and his shooting took a step back this past year. He went from making 35.8 percent of his threes as a sophomore to just 25 percent as a junior. That’s a minor gripe, but it’s worth wondering if his sophomore year was an aberration or not.
Defensively, I like the effort Anosike gives, but I would’ve expected to see some better numbers than what he’s put up. He’s only totaled 38 blocks and 57 steals in 95 games, which aren’t bad, but for how versatile he is I expected a little better. From watching his film, I think his defense makes impacts that you don’t see in the box score, so that’s not a major knock against him, either. He did total a Defensive Win Share of 1.8 for Sacred Heart this past season, which was higher than anyone on UT’s roster earned during the 2019-20 season.
Will EJ Anosike start for Tennessee next season? I’m a little skeptical of that just because of who all the Vols return and the two five-stars they’re bringing in on the recruiting trail, but at the very least I expect Anosike to be the sixth man for UT and be the first guy off the bench. Even in that role, he’s capable of averaging 27 or so minutes a game.
Anosike gives the Vols something they sorely missed this past season with both Williams and Schofield gone: A guy who can fight down low and serve as a wrecking ball in the paint. Fulkerson turned into that some down the stretch, but he doesn’t have the frame that Williams and Schofield did. Anosike does, and he brings a lot of positional versatility to UT’s roster. I could see him playing the three or four a lot, but he’s quick enough and big enough to guard a two or a five even.
Rick Barnes has proven multiple times that a player doesn’t have to have elite height to be an effective post player. Just look at Williams, Pons, and to an extent what Schofield did as well. Anosike fits that mold perfectly, and he’s capable of stretching the floor a bit and providing a different dimension on offense. If nothing else, he’s going to be an extremely high-effort player who will bring down rebounds and give UT extra opportunities.
For a team that ranked 12th among 14 teams in the SEC in total rebounds in conference play, Anosike is an answered prayer.