Tennessee shooting guard Justin Powell plans to enter the transfer portal, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello reported Wednesday night.
Powell averaged 3.7 points and 1.5 rebounds in 30 games as a sophomore after transferring from Auburn to Tennessee following his injury-shortened freshman season.
The 6-foot-6 guard flashed the scoring potential that made him a sought after transfer a year ago in a handful of early season games and in practices made available to the media.
Powell shot 45% from three-point range in 11 games at Auburn on his way to averaging 11.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. That showed up in early season wins over UT Martin, ETSU and Presbyterian where he combined to shoot 11-of-14 from beyond the arc.
However, Powell struggled to find consistent high volume minutes due to the emergence of Zakai Zeigler and the All-SEC play of Santiago Vescovi and Kennedy Chandler.
Powell hit back-to-back threes in the second half of the Vols’ win over Texas A&M in early February, but never made a major contribution again, eventually losing his minutes to Victory Bailey Jr.
The Kentucky native didn’t shoot poorly from three-point range (39%), but seemed to lose his confidence and aggression without major minutes.
In fact, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said the best way for Powell to earn playing time was to shoot when he is open following the win over Texas A&M.
“I told Justin; I told the people out there; Justin would play a lot more if he’d shoot the ball when he’s open,” Barnes said. “Tonight, he turned it over twice. He’s too good of a ball handler, but the firstturnover he in the game, he should have shot the ball as soon as it hit his hands. Those were two big threes that he hit, because they had gotten it down to two or three. Those were big.”
After using his one-time free transfer last season, Powell will likely have to sit out a season before becoming eligible.
Powell becomes the fifth player to transfer out of Tennessee’s program this offseason. The Vols have brought in one transfer, landing Indiana State shooting guard Tyreke Key.
Key and Powell play the same position, but the Vols still need back court bodies with Kennedy Chandler off to the NBA and Bailey Jr. now at George Mason.
Powell’s transfer opens up four open scholarships for Tennessee to fill before next season. The Vols will host one potential candidate in Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tyrese Hunter for a visit this weekend.