Four-Star Forward Talks ‘Impressive’ Thompson-Boling Arena, Junior Season

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    Alabama power forward Cade Phillips made his second visit to Tennessee in the last month Wednesday, taking in the Vols’ 77-73 win over No. 6 Arizona.

    Phillips was impressed with the play of John Fulkerson and the near sell out crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena.

    “The crazy thing to me was that was a Dec. 22 game,” Phillips said. “You have no students on campus, most everyone that lives around there is traveling for Christmas and they still sold out the arena. That was impressive. You had a huge turnout of students and student section on a Dec. 22 game when most students are home. That was something I was impressed by.”

    Phillips — a 6-foot-8, 200 pound forward — liked what he saw from Tennessee’s offense that featured in the top 10 win. The sought after forward liked what he saw from John Fulkerson and the stage he was given to be successful.

    “With Fulky and Olivier, they let those guys work,” Phillips said. “That’s something that I like a lot. They give them space to be them. Those are similar players to me— slight differences from me. That’s something I look at and am like ‘what is he doing in the offense.’ You saw at the end of the game they went to Fulky one vs. one. That’s something I took notice of and something I could see myself fitting in, that three guard, four power forward combo.”

    The class of 2023 prospect ranks as a four-star and the 65th best player in the 247sports composite rankings. The Jacksonville native is the number one player in the state of Alabama and the No. 10 power forward nationally.

    The unofficial visit was Phillips’ second visit to Knoxville in the last month. The four-star has only visited Tennessee and Georgia twice while also visiting Alabama, Memphis and Georgia Tech earlier this fall.

    As he focuses on his senior, Phillips is tuning his visits down. Still, the power forward is trying to get to Stanford for an official visit soon.

    “They’re definitely prioritizing me which means I’m prioritizing them,” Phillips said of Tennessee. “They’re in that top group it seems. I’m shooting on relationships, especially with coaches and players and players with their coaches. I noticed that last time. They’ve continued to try and build a relationship. That’s something that’s huge with me and that’s going to keep them on the top as long as they keep doing it.”

    Phillips still plans on cutting his list of schools down following the conclusion of his junior season, but for now he’s focused on his play on the court. 

    Playing at Jacksonville High School, Phillips is having a strong junior season and improving upon his play from his first two high school seasons.

    “Definitely just skill set by far,” Phillips said of where his game has grown. “Shooting the ball a lot better than I did last year and my size — I’ve grown a couple inches and put on a lot of weight. We’re still trying to put on as much weight as possible … that’s something I’ve really been working on. I’ve also seen a lot of defensive prioritization of me so I’m trying to work on passing. My assists per game have shot up since last year. Just being an all round better basketball player is what I’m trying to do.”

    The 8-2 Golden Eagles are one of the best teams in the state of Alabama and a favorite to win the 4A State Championship.

    “We’ve embraced it,” Phillips said. “That kind of — not villain — but everyone wants to see us fail. We’ve kind of embraced it and it’s really helped us hit a roll.”

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.