Tennessee Veteran Guard Declares for the NBA Draft

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    Tennessee guard Santiago Vescovi has officially declared for the 2022 NBA Draft according to a post on his Instagram on Saturday.

    Vescovi’s declaration is not an immediate goodbye to Tennessee, though, as he will still maintain his collegiate eligibility. However, after a three-year career with Tennessee, Vescovi is ready to test the waters.

    While maintaining his eligibility, Vescovi will be able to go through the NBA Draft evaluation process to receive feedback before deciding whether to return to Tennessee or not. In a similar fashion, former Tennessee forward Yves Pons also did this prior to his final season at Tennessee. Pons did declare for the draft but eventually made the decision to return to Tennessee for one final year.

    “Thank you to everyone who supported our team this season,” Vescovi said in the post. “This year’s team was very special, and playing alongside this group of teammates made my love for the game grow even stronger.”

    “Coach Barnes has encouraged me to go through the NBA Draft evaluation process, and I intend to take advantage of that opportunity while maintaining my collegiate eligibility. I know I have the full support of Vol Nation, and I look forward to the valuable experience and feedback I’ll receive in the weeks to come.”

    Santiago Vescovi has started 77 of his 81 games during his Tennessee career. During those 81 contests, Vescovi averaged 11.2 points per game, 3.3 assists per game, and 3.9 rebounds per game.

    Santiago Vescovi

    Photo via Santiago Vescovi (@SantiVescovi) on Instagram.

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    Before arriving at Tennessee, Vescovi attended The NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia from July to December in 2019. Australia wasn’t Vescovi’s first international trip, though, as the guard has been everywhere from Mexico to Latin America to play ball.

    Vescovi’s first season at Tennessee came in 2019-2020 when the freshman guard provided Tennessee with a much-needed three-point shot with SEC play approaching. In his first game for Tennessee, Vescovi broke a Tennessee record for most made three-pointers in a debut.

    “The way he came in with two days (to prepare), and I remember getting with him and saying for him to get me three things that he was comfortable with, because we knew he wouldn’t be able to learn everything that we wanted him to in that point in time,” Barnes recalled about Vescovi’s debut. “A couple things that he did, it was really easy to tweak with him what we were doing. The way he walked on that floor his first game, hitting six threes—and obviously he was not in great shape—but just the way he went about it, you knew he had terrific basketball IQ.”

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    Over the course of the next two seasons, Vescovi would continue to evolve his game and get better with time. The work that Vescovi has put in with the Tennessee program culminated in a terrific junior season in which he was named as a 2022 All-SEC First Team (coaches) selection.

    “He has changed his body,” Barnes said about Vescovi. “Santi is very unselfish, very competitive, and we figured that out really early. To be honest, we have really high expectations for him. I know people think about him shooting the ball, but I think he does so much more than just shoot the basketball. He impacts games a lot like Josiah in things that don’t show up. The way he has been guarded this year; he has gotten some guys some great looks at the basket because they are afraid to leave him, and I think he is the best screener on our team. I am not surprised (about the All-SEC selection) because of the way he goes about his business.”

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.