The Vols received a huge recruiting boost in mid-May when five-star wing Julian Phillips officially announced his commitment to Tennessee. The South Carolina native was originally an LSU commit but ended up reopening his recruitment after Will Wade and his staff were fired.
Tennessee was one of the final schools in the conversation when Phillips did commit to LSU, so the Vols were sure to quickly get back in touch following the decommitment in mid-March.
Since Phillips’ commitment to Tennessee, the No. 12 overall player in the class of 2022 has consistently talked about how important Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes was in his decision.
“Rick Barnes, he has a history with great wings,” Phillips said on CBS Sports HQ immediately following his commitment. “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.”
On Wednesday, Zach “SchuZ” Schumaker posted a new interview featuring Julian Phillips on Youtube, where the Tennessee commit went into more detail about his decision to play for Barnes. Phillips first answered the question with some more broad thoughts on Tennessee before zeroing in on a few topics, such as the faith that they share and Barnes’ track record in getting players to the NBA.
“It’s really big,” Phillips said about how important it is for him to share the same faith as Barnes. “I think it’s really big to keep your faith. I learned a lot about it last year at Link [Academy], with Link being a Christian school, that your faith is really everything. It’s really your foundation. It keeps you going because without God you wouldn’t be able to do the things you are able to do today. So being able to have Him by your side and thank Him for all the blessings, it’s really great. I think me being able to go to Tennessee, coach Barnes being a believer as well, along with the rest of his staff, it’ll just make it even better. Being able to keep my faith going throughout the college level, and I’ll be able to excel in that way.”
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Off the court, Barnes and Phillips have a great relationship that is just being built. During the interview, Phillips said that Barnes has endless recruiting stories that blew his mind. But when asked if he could share any of Barnes’ stories, Phillips laughingly and politely declined but said that he will recommend a podcast to the Tennessee head coach.
Phillips has an eye on what Barnes has been able to do from an NBA perspective. Barnes’ track record in getting players to the NBA is nothing short of impressive. Over the course of his entire career, Barnes has had a hand in getting 29 players drafted into the NBA, including standout names such as Kevin Durant, Avery Bradley, Myles Turner, Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone, Keon Johnson, and Jaden Springer. Not to mention, Kennedy Chandler is about to be an NBA Draft selection this summer as well.
“It was really appealing,” Phillips said about Barnes’ NBA Draft history to SchuZ. “Obviously, with him having the track record of doing that, it shows that he knows what he is doing and he knows what it looks like. So I know that with me being able to go there, it shouldn’t really be too much different with myself because he has been through it before. I have full trust in him and I know he has trust in myself.”
According to 247 Sports, Julian Phillips is currently listed as Tennessee Basketball’s fourth-highest recruit in the rankings era, the No. 12 prospect in the class of 2022. In addition, one way-too-early NBA mock draft for the 2023 draft from ESPN even has Phillips as a Top 15 Draft pick.
With the amount of talent that Phillips has in his game, Tennessee is hoping for standout production from their standout five-star recruit.
Check out Phillips’ full interview with SchuZ on Youtube below.