Could Tennessee Recruiting Benefit From LSU Terminating Will Wade?

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    After the early signing date in November, it appeared that Tennessee basketball wasn’t going to sign a five-star recruit for the first time since the 2018 recruiting cycle.

    The Vols were in deep on a number of top prospects — including Cason Wallace, Dillon Mitchell and Brandon Miller — but didn’t win the services of any five-stars.

    However, LSU’s termination of Will Wade due to a number of level one NCAA violations has given Tennessee a second chance to pursue to duo of blue-chip recruits.

    Five-star center Yohan Traore had Tennessee in his top 10 before committing to LSU in late January. The California native ranks as a five-star and the nation’s No. 15 player and No. 4 center in the 2022 recruiting class according to the 247sports composite rankings.

    While Traore included Tennessee in his top 10, the center never visited Knoxville and there has been a lot of smoke linking the recruit to Auburn.

    Tennessee was deeper in five-star Julian Phillips’ recruitment before the power forward committed to LSU in October. The power forward officially visited Tennessee in September and included the Vols in his top four before deciding on the Tigers.

    The South Carolina native plays his prep basketball the Link Academy in Missouri and ranks as the nation’s No. 12 overall player and No. 2 power forward in the class of 2022.

    The Vols currently have just one scholarship opening up for the 2022-23 season due to the departure of John Fulkerson. However, Kennedy Chandler electing to go to the NBA and players entering the transfer portal is still on the table.

    Tennessee’s lone signee in the 2022 class in Knoxville point guard B.J. Edwards.

    Following the Vols’ season ending loss to Michigan, Rick Barnes discussed the need to have an interior scorer you can throw the ball into when shots aren’t falling.

    “I think in college you have to have somebody, and regardless of size you have to have somebody that can go in when you have days like this, when you can’t seem to find the bottom of the bucket,” Barnes said. “You’ve got to be able to throw it in there and get fouled, put pressure on people. … But at the collegiate level, you have to have presence around the rim. And we haven’t been able to do that consistently. It came mostly from our guards penetrating and playing in that area.”

    Tennessee’s Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Jonas Aidoo could easily grow into that role after flashing their potential during their freshmen season.

    While Traore would bring Tennessee that inside game, Phillips is a versatile 6-foot-8 power forward who an play on the perimeter and doesn’t boast a strong back to the basket game.

    The Vols have also reached out to prospects in the transfer portal.

    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.