Tennessee may have a secret weapon on their men’s basketball roster. At least, according to rising sophomore guard Josiah-Jordan James.
James spoke with the media via a virtual press conference on Friday afternoon, and during the session he was asked about Oregon transfer guard Victor Bailey Jr. becoming eligible this season after sitting out last year.
According to James, the former Oregon sixth man and former four-star prospect is being undervalued across the country.
“I honestly think Victory Bailey is the best-kept secret in all of college basketball,” James said. “He’s done some things that I’ve only seen pros do. He definitely brings a lot to this team.
“Going against him every day in practice definitely made me a lot better, and I’m excited to do it again this year. We definitely bring the best out of each other.”
Bailey transferred to Tennessee last offseason after spending two years with Oregon. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Bailey had to sit out the 2019-20 season and take a redshirt. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard will be eligible this season, and James thinks he’ll make a bigger impact than what outsiders are predicting.
Why? Because Bailey apparently has elite athleticism and speed.
“Just his athleticism, it’s just on a whole nother level,” James explained. “His shot-making ability and his speed is out of this world. He can get down the court in no time. He knows that, and he knows what he brings to the table, and he’s excited. I’m excited for him.”
While with the Ducks, Bailey averaged 7.0 points in 73 total games. He started eight contests as a sophomore and was one of two freshman to play in every game during the 2017-18 season for Oregon.
As a sophomore last season, the Texas native averaged 7.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. Bailey shot 41 percent from the field and had 13 games where he made multiple three-pointers. He ranked ninth in the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal percentage (.398) and shot 91 percent from the free throw line in his Oregon career. He led the Ducks in three-point shooting as a sophomore.
Coming out of high school, Bailey chose Oregon over Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Missouri, and Nebraska. He was a four-star point guard prospect out of McNeil High School in Austin, Texas and was ranked as the No. 86 overall player in the country, the 19th-best point guard, and the fifth-best prospect in the state of Texas according to 247Sports’ Composite rankings.
Bailey scored a total of 2,429 points during his time at McNeil. He helped lead his team to two district titles as well as qualifying for the playoffs all four years. Bailey was named district MVP as a sophomore, junior, and senior and won the 2017 American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk Championship.
The redshirt junior will have plenty of competition for playing time at Tennessee this season, but James appears confident that the veteran guard will make his presence felt in UT’s rotation.
Bailey becomes eligible just in time to join a crowded backcourt that includes James and fellow rising sophomore Santiago Vescovi as well as five-stars Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson from Tennessee’s 2020 signing class. Rising sophomore Davonte Gaines is also capable of playing as a guard.