Vols Land Grad Transfer Forward for 2020-21 Season

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    (Photo via Steve McLaughlin/Sacred Heart Athletics)

    Tennessee added a big piece to the roster of their men’s basketball team on Friday.

    Sacred Heart grad transfer forward E.J. Anosike announced on Friday afternoon that he plans on using his final year of eligibility to play for the Vols, choosing Tennessee over Gonzaga, Louisville, Georgetown, Georgia, Wake Forest, and Boston College.

    The 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward from East Orange, New Jersey announced his decision to transfer away from the Pioneers after a stellar junior campaign that saw him average a double-double for the season.

    Anosike earned First Team All-Northeast Conference honors after averaging 15.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 33.2 minutes a game, starting all 33 games he played. Anosike was a Second Team All-NEC player as a sophomore in 2018-19 after averaging 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds a game in 32 games, including 30 starts.

    Sacred Heart finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 20-13 record and a 12-6 mark in NEC play. The 20 wins were the most for the Pioneers since joining the Division I ranks in 1999, and their 12 conference victories marked the most since going 12-6 in the 2008-09 season.

    As a junior, Anosike shot 48.4 percent overall and 25 percent from three. He totaled 19 double-doubles this past season, including a 26-point, 22-rebound performance against LIU. Anosike has amassed 27 double-doubles in his three years of college basketball. He led the NEC in rebounds per game as a junior and finished third in field goal percentage and seventh in points per game. He also attempted the second-most free throws in the conference and tied for the third-most makes from the free throw line.

    Throughout his career at Sacred Heart, Anosike played in 95 games and made 63 starts, totaling 1,100 points and 757 rebounds while shooting 48.3 percent overall.

    In his sophomore season, Anosike was a better three-point shooter, connecting on 35.8 percent of his 53 three-pointers. His efficiency took a dip last season, but overall he’s made 28.3 percent of the 138 threes he’s attempted.

    Most of Anosike’s production at Sacred Heart came against other NEC teams, but he wasn’t a slouch against opponents from bigger conferences, either. In 10 combined games against teams from the Big East, ACC, AAC, and Big Ten, Anosike averaged 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, shooting 41.6 percent overall in those contests.

    The Vols were able to add Anosike to the roster because of the transfer of rising redshirt senior wing Jalen Johnson. The fourth-year junior put his name in the NCAA transfer portal earlier this week, freeing up a scholarship for head coach Rick Barnes and Tennessee’s basketball program.

    Anosike gives Tennessee an intriguing post option who is capable of stretching the floor. Yves Pons played as an undersized four at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds this season, and Anosike fits that role even better at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds.

    Tennessee will now have nine players on the roster who measure in at 6-foot-6 or taller — including four-star signee Corey Walker — assuming no other players transfer. Anosike joins John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, Uros Plavsic, Olivier Nkamhoua, and Drew Pember as post players on UT’s roster for the 2020-21 season.

    The newest member of Tennessee’s men’s basketball program has a unique tie to UT, too.

    Anosike’s sister, Nicky, was a standout under Pat Summitt with the Lady Vols from 2004-08 and helped Tennessee win two national titles. She finished her UT career with over 1,000 points and averaged 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in four years. She also helped the USA Women’s U19 team win the gold medal in 2005 and won a gold medal in 2007 as well. Nicky Anosike played in the WNBA for a handful of seasons and was a WNBA All-Star in 2009. In 2018, Anosike served as a graduate assistant under Holly Warlick in Warlick’s final year as the Lady Vols’ head coach.

    Coming out of Paramus Catholic High School, Anosike only had offers from programs like Sacred Heart, Dartmouth, Robert Morris, and Vermont among other mid-majors. He scored over 1,000 points in high school and averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals in his senior season. He spent a grad year at St. Thomas More Academy before joining Sacred Heart.