Nation’s top point guard commits to Tennessee

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    (Photo via @KChandler_1 on Twitter)

    2021 five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler has committed to Tennessee over Kentucky, Duke, Memphis and North Carolina, he announced on Instagram Live Friday afternoon.

    “Coach Rick Barnes, they have been recruiting me ever since they knew who I was — ever since Day 1,” Chandler said to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Instagram Live. “(Assistant) Coach Kim English and them, they recruited me hard. On my official visit, it felt like home. It was my first official visit and I really liked it.

    “I’ll be looking forward to winning and going to the Final Four and winning the national championship and bringing energy and excitement to Thompson-Boling Arena.”

    Chandler is considered the top point guard by multiple recruiting services. Rivals has Chandler ranked as the top point guard in the country and No. 10 overall player, while ESPN ranks the Memphis, TN native as the top point guard as well, but the No. 12 overall player in the country. Both outlets list him as a five-star. 247Sports lists Chandler as a four-star, but the second-best point guard in the class of 2021, and the No. 19 overall player in the country.

    In his commitment video that Sportscenter posted on its social media accounts, Chandler stated that he “will always rep my city, but I am going to play for my state.”

    He is the highest rated prospect (No. 10) to commit to the Vols in the Rivals.com era. Chandler is the fourth five-star to pick Tennessee in the last three classes.

    The 6-foot-1, 160 lbs. point guard is set to play his senior season of high school basketball at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas. Chandler had previously played his first three years of high school basketball at Briarcrest Christian School, which is located just outside of Memphis.

    Tennessee, Michigan, Syracuse, Ole Miss, and Florida State have all hosted Chandler on official visits, while Kentucky hosted him on an unofficial trip in February. Duke also hosted Chandler on campus for an unofficial visit in January.

    Rick Barnes and his coaching staff made Chandler a big point of emphasis in the 2021 recruiting cycle. Chandler took multiple visits to UT’s campus in person, and Tennessee’s staff conducted multiple calls with the five-star guard since the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down recruiting visits.

    “Rick Barnes is a great coach,” Chandler said. “He is going to be a Hall of Fame coach one day. He tells the stories about the point guards he coached at Texas like D.J. Augustin and T.J. Ford and them. He said I could be the next T.J. Ford and I am looking forward to him coaching me.”

    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.

    Chandler is Tennessee’s first commitment of the 2021 class. The Vols are coming off a 2020 recruiting cycle in which the Vols inked the No. 4 overall class in the country. Tennessee signed a pair of five-star guards in Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, but neither are considered a true point guard like Chandler. Four-star power forward Corey Walker Jr. rounded out the recruiting class.

    The Vols landing Chandler 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.

    “I am looking to bring Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith and Jahmai Mashack,” Chandler said.