The highest rated uncommitted player in the 2022 recruiting cycle Julian Phillips committed to Tennessee Thursday afternoon.
The five-star small forward committed to Rick Barnes and the Vols over Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina, USC, G League Ignite and Overtime Elite. While Phillips chose Tennessee from a group of seven the South Carolina native’s recruitment heated up between the Vols, Auburn and the G League in recent days and weeks.
“I picked Tennessee because I have a great relationship with coach Barnes, coach Gainey, and the rest of that staff,” Phillips said on CBS Sports HQ after his commitment. “I took my visit down there a few months ago and the campus and everything looked beautiful and it’s a system that I can do well in next year. So that’s why I chose them.”
Phillips also spoke highly of coach Barnes in more detail after his commitment.
“Rick Barnes, he has a history with great wings,” Phillips said on CBS Sports HQ. “He’s a great coach. Tennessee won the SEC Championship last year so they’re a hot team right now. And then coach Barnes is just a great guy overall. I have a great relationship with him. He talks to me about a lot of things. Basketball, but non-basketball related like our faith in Jesus Christ and things like that. He’s a great guy and I would be happy to play for him.”
Phillips ranks as the No. 12 player and No. 4 small forward in the country according to the 247sports composite rankings. At 6-foot-8, Phillips has the size of a power forward but the ball handling and shooting skills of a wing.
The five-star wing officially signed with Tennessee on Monday, May 16.
“First of all, we love Julian and his family,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said in a statement. “He has the type of character and humility that we value in our program. Basketball-wise, his versatility and ability to impact the game in so many different ways is special. Julian is a three-level scorer, which is extremely valuable in our system. Defensively, we’re very excited about his combination of length and athleticism, as it enables him to effectively guard multiple positions. We expect Julian to blend into our current team nicely and make an immediate impact.”
The five-star’s commitment gives Tennessee the versatility to play the four-guard lineup that was so effective last season. Both Phillips and Josiah-Jordan James have wing skillsets but the size and athleticism to be able to guard big men.
Phillips commitment caps off a long and dramatic recruitment. The South Carolina native committed to LSU over Tennessee, Florida State and USC in the fall before backing off his pledge to the Tigers following Will Wade’s termination.
Still, Phillips commitment came over two months after re-opening his recruitment and a whole new dramatic recruiting process began.
The small forward’s commitment marks the fourth straight cycle that Barnes and Tennessee have landed a five-star prospect. Phillips joins James, Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, Kennedy Chandler and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield as five-star recruits that have signed with Tennessee under Barnes’ leadership.
Phillips commitment gives Tennessee two incoming high schools prospects to go with Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key. After losing five players to the transfer portal and Chandler to the NBA Draft, the Vols have three scholarships to fill before the season.