Kennedy Chandler Aiming to Prove the NBA Doubters Wrong

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    Former Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler dazzled audiences and scouts alike last season as the freshman point guard made his collegiate debut in Knoxville.

    Chandler was a day one starter for Tennessee and ended up leading Tennessee in points per game and assists per game across the course of the season.

    With the NBA Draft approaching in June, Chandler has been participating in the NBA Draft Combine this week. During the combine, Chandler spoke with NBA TV’s Andy Katz about his transition away from Tennessee and his outlook in the NBA.

    “I feel like it was the right decision for me to make,” Chandler said while speaking with Katz. “Just for my speed to translate over to the NBA, my quickness, and the way I can defend with the ball. I talked to coach Barnes about the decision as well. He also felt like it was right for me to enter my name into the draft and I told him how I felt. But I feel like my game translates great to the league, and my quickness and my speed.”

    Standing at 6-feet tall, Chandler will come in as one of the undersized point guards in the league. In comparison, Kentucky’s TyTy Washington stands at 6-foot-3. But despite being just a bit shorter than some of the competition, Chandler proved throughout the collegiate year that he has more than enough tools in his belt to still be productive on both ends of the court. While it will be a challenge regardless, Chandler has the confidence and the belief in himself moving forward.

    “I’ve heard that, you hear that a lot,” Chandler said about critics saying that he doesn’t have the size for the NBA. “There will always be something that people have to say about you. I feel like, that’s the thing, you see other guards in the league that are my size and are staying long in the league. I feel like I can do the same thing. I feel like that is going to be the only criticism for me, my size, but I can let them know that they probably said the same thing for college as well. And I still let them know that size doesn’t matter. So if they say the same thing, I can prove to them again about why size doesn’t matter.”

    Kennedy Chandler is projecting to be a near-unanimous first-round draft pick. In Rocky Top Insider’s mock draft roundup earlier this week, Chandler landed as a first-round selection in four of the five mock drafts examined. In addition, two of the four have Chandler going to San Antonio (pick No. 20 & 25), with the other two projecting Chandler to land in Memphis (pick No. 22).

    The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23, at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.

    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.