Kennedy Chandler looked more like a veteran than a first-year player in the Vols’ exhibition game on Saturday.
With all the storylines throughout the game, including John Fulkerson’s status and an eventual 41 point win, Chandler still stole the headline by the time the clock hit zero. In an exhibition game in Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday, Tennessee took down Lenoir-Rhyne, 103-62.
Tennessee’s five-star freshman point guard was dominant, finishing his debut as the Vols’ leading scorer with 21 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Chandler ran the point of Tennessee’s offense from the opening jump as a starter on the court. But from the opening to the closing buzzer, Chandler wasn’t simply just dominant; no, he was electrifying.
Kennedy Chandler was a showman against Lenoir-Rhyne. From stealing passes to an abundance of scoring to assists that make you rewind the T.V., Chandler’s style of play was thrilling.
His game began when he stole a pass on the game’s second possession, taking the ball across midcourt and uncontested to the basket. That was just the first showing of the speed that Chandler possesses on the court. Although, it is in different ways. Chandler has the kind of athleticism that can change the momentum of any given possession.
When guarding in the half-court, Chandler was agile and quick while bouncing in different passing lines. He had active hands while defending the ball and active eyes while off of it, leading to steals or transition baskets. From an offensive perspective, Chandler was able to fly past the opposing team in transition. In the half-court offense, he was decisive and confident in his drives to the basket, leading to scores.
In fact, Chandler was one of the most offensively efficient players on the court for Tennessee. Chandler finished 8-of-10 shooting from the floor, going 4-of-5 from behind the arc.
In his Tennessee debut, Chandler had the third-most minutes played in Tennessee’s exhibition game. Santiago Vescovi and Josiah Jordan James were in for 24 minutes, while Olivier Nkamhoua saw 23 minutes of action. Fellow freshman and former five-star Brandon Huntley-Hatfield also had a tremendous debut, with 15 points and 12 rebounds in his 20 minutes of play.
Additionally, Chandler had the fourth-highest plus/minus on the team by the end of the game. Chandler finished at +25, only trailing Huntley-Hatfield (+30), Victor Bailey Jr. (+29), and Vescovi (+26).
The majority of Chandler’s play did come in the first half as he exploded onto the scene. Chandler had 18 first-half points, leading the next closest Tennessee player by seven. The freshman phenom was 7-of-8 from the field and 3-of-3 from behind the arc in the first half.
Chandler and No. 18 Tennessee will officially begin their season Tuesday, Nov. 9, at home against UT Martin.