On Tuesday, I wrote about Corey Evans of Rivals.com stating that Tennessee is “definitely the team to beat” for five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler. As of today, there’s even more evidence pointing towards the Vols being the team to eventually land the top point guard in the 2021 class.
Chandler has a group of finalists of Tennessee, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Memphis. But all the momentum seems to be moving in the Vols’ favor.
Not only has Evans gone on record saying the Vols are the team to beat for Chandler, but he wrote a “rank the contenders” piece on Tuesday about the five-star point guard and listed Tennessee at the top of the group.
“The Vols sit in the best spot for the five-star guard at this point,” Evans wrote. “Rick Barnes’ Tennessee outfit has had a lot of success based with the play of underrated but hard-playing standouts, but the Vols have since turned into one of the more successful programs on the recruiting trial. That will not change in the 2021 class. It’s fair to classify Chandler as a Tennessee lean, and there is a decent chance that he pushes for someone such as Paolo Banchero and/or Jabari Smith to join him in Knoxville. Chandler hasn’t been willing to outline a timeline, but if does decide soon, the Vols would be the choice.”
As for that timeline, things could be happening sooner rather than later for Chandler.
A flood of crystal ball predictions for Chandler in favor of Tennessee came in on Tuesday on 247Sports. Two analysts who cover Duke basketball for 247Sports — Chad Lykins and Adam Rowe — predicted Chandler to choose the Vols, as did Brooks Hansen of the Memphis Tigers’ 247Sports site. Grant Ramey of GoVols247 also predicted UT to land Chandler, and Jerry Meyer — the Director of Basketball Scouting for 247Sports — logged a prediction for the Vols on Tuesday night.
The same can be said for the analysts over at Rivals.
Corey Evans placed a “FutureCast” prediction for Chandler in favor of the Vols back on July 6th, and Zach Berry of Rivals’ Ole Miss site changed his original prediction of Duke to Tennessee last week. Tyler Pellom, who covers MTSU for Rivals, also predicted the Vols to get Chandler’s commitment on Wednesday morning.
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, the talented point guard out of Memphis is the No. 11 overall prospect, No. 1 point guard, and No. 1 recruit in the state of Tennessee in the 2021 class. Chandler played for Briarcrest Christian the last few years, but he announced earlier this offseason that he will be transferring to Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas for his final year of high school.
Tennessee, Michigan, Syracuse, Ole Miss, and Florida State have all gotten official visits from Chandler, and Kentucky got him on an unofficial trip in February along with Duke getting him on campus for an unofficial visit in January.
Rick Barnes and his coaching staff have made Chandler a big point of emphasis in the 2021 cycle for quite a while now. Not only has Chandler taken visits to UT’s campus in person, but Tennessee’s staff have conducted multiple calls with the five-star guard since the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down recruiting visits.
Should the Vols land Chandler, it could have a huge impact on the rest of Tennessee’s 2021 class. Chandler is friends with fellow five-star Paolo Banchero — the No. 1 power forward in the 2021 cycle — and could be a big draw for someone like five-star Jabari Smith as well. Both Chandler and Banchero took official visits to Tennessee’s campus together back in October of last year.
Though he’s just 6-foot-1 and only just finished his junior year, Chandler is already a match-up problem for teams. He’s quick and can create his own shot at all three levels of the court. Chandler is capable of hitting threes but tends to use his quickness and play-making ability to drive to the hoop. Once there, he’s good at finishing, but he can also dish the ball back out and find open teammates. He has good vision and exceptional passing ability all over the court. He looks like an absolute star as a floor general. He still needs to work on his consistency as a three-point shooter, but everything else about his game is superb. He’s smooth as a ball handler, and he has all the tools to be a successful point guard who can also score.
As a sophomore for Briarcrest Christian, Chandler averaged 19.5 points, four rebounds, 3.6 steals, and three assists per game according to MaxPreps. He was also voted TSSAA Division II Class AA Mr. Basketball for both his sophomore season and his junior season this past year, winning the title in back-to-back years. As a junior, Chandler averaged 22.2 points and 4.3 assists. He helped lead Briarcrest to the state title game where they lost 50-47 to Knoxville Catholic. Chandler totaled 13 points and five assists in the game.
During the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in April through July of last year, Chandler played for the MOKAN Elite squad. In 19 total games during the EYBL, Chandler averaged 14.7 points, 5.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals a game while shooting 50.5 percent overall, 31.1 percent from three, and 72.9 percent from the free throw line according to D1Circuit.com.
Tennessee doesn’t have a prospect committed to them in their 2021 class at the moment, but the Vols did sign an elite group of prospects in the 2020 cycle. Five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson were joined by four-star forward Corey Walker Jr. in signing with Tennessee in the 2020 class. The Vols are targeting a number of five-star prospects in the 2021 cycle besides just Chandler and Banchero, such as Jabari Smith, Harrison Ingram, and Charles Bediako.