It has felt like the Tennessee basketball program could be on the verge of something special regarding next years team for some time now. The Vols loaded up on players like Kennedy Chandler, Jahmai Mashack, Quentin Diboundje for the 2021 class, there was room for more.
Then came Thursday, as 5-star Brandon Huntley-Hatfield committed to Rick Barnes and the Tennessee staff. This is a massive pickup for the Vols roster, as Hatfield decided to re-classify from the 2022 class to the 2021 class. This means the Vols are getting their guy immediately. He now moves to the #19 overall player in the ESPN 100.
This is Rick Barnes and the staff working their magic, knowing they would have this opportunity. As a few players left the program, Rick Barnes added new coaches and was preparing for an influx in players. The Vols just added 4-Star C Jonas Aidoo this week, who has the potential to be very productive for this team.
But, nothing compares to adding Huntley-Hatfield. The director of scouting for 247 Sports, Jerry Meyer, had this to say about the 5-Star PF.
“Has a quintessential power forward body with length, strength and density. Power based athlete. High level body control for a player his size. Can score from all three levels. Very comfortable with the ball. Has functional ball handling skills that produce buckets in scoring range. Can get to the basket efficiently. Loves to go left as a righty. Has ability to dominate his area as a rebounder. Improving as a defender is a proper area of focus.”
The Clarksville, Tn, native has spent time playing at IMG Academy, before transferring to Scotland Campus in Pennsylvania. He has played for former Tennessee PG Bobby Maze, in his AAU program over a number of years. He’s familiar with the campus and Rick Barnes, though his main recruiter Desmond Oliver is now coaching at ETSU.
Still, through it all, he felt like he could succeed at Tennessee, especially after re-classifying, which isn’t the easiest decision to make.
You cannot understate how big this is for the Tennessee roster. If they were a Top-20 team on Wednesday, they’re now a Top-10 team on Thursday. This will also most likely shoot the Vols up the recruiting rankings, with some experts thinking this could put them at #2 in the country.
Rick Barnes has done a fantastic job this off-season finding the players he needed to rebuild his squad, knowing he has key pieces returning. This team will have plenty of weapons for next season, now let’s see how Barnes uses them.