Tennessee basketball signee Freddie Dilione plans to enroll at Tennessee for the spring semester while joining the basketball team, head coach Rick Barnes confirmed to the media Monday morning.
“Freddie decided he wanted to get here as early as he could,” Barnes said. “We’ll get him here and we’ll get him, I don’t know how long it will really take him to get to practice with us, but we’ll get him going in school, get him going that way.”
Dilione is the highest rated signee in Tennessee’s 2023 class, ranking as the No. 27 player in the country and No. 8 combo guard in the country according to the 247sports composite rankings.
While the 6-foot-3 guard plans to join the team shortly, Barnes says he won’t play this season while qualifying for a redshirt.
“He’s not going to play,” Barnes said. “He won’t play this year. He’s coming in to get himself ready for next year.”
The emphasis for the physical guard who Barnes called “a Tennessee guard” when he signed with the Vols in November is to get in the weight room with strength coach Garrett Mendenwald and begin learning Tennessee’s offense.
“Garrett will start his deal with him, helping him with his body, nutrition, all that coming together,” Barnes said. “But he’ll be in practice. How much he does, he’ll probably start out really helping our scout team. And as he continues to learn our system here, it’s going to be great for us and it’s going to be great for him. We’re excited about it.”
When Dilione arrives on campus and can start practicing with the team is unclear. Tennessee’s spring semester doesn’t start until Jan. 23. Whether Dilione can join the team before then is unclear, though seems likely given Tennessee football early enrollees went through Orange Bowl practice with the team.
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While Tennessee doesn’t plan on playing Dilione this season, getting the highly touted ball handler on campus should pay major dividends for himself and the Vols next season.
“I think it’s huge, I do,” Barnes said. “You look, it’s been going on in football forever. The fact that he and his family decided they wanted to do it. I think it’s going to really help him a lot. Gives him a big head start on things.”
It was the Dilione family’s idea for Freddie to enroll at Tennessee during January instead of in the summer. In fact, Barnes said that the high four-star recruit considered enrolling ahead of the 2022-23 season.
“We had talked about, he had a chance he could possibly come this year if he wanted to,” Barnes said. “But he decided, the family decided, they wanted to go to school and go from there. I think he’s had a good experience, but just in his mind, where he is right now, he and his family decided it would be better that they get here and get going.
“We’re excited about it. We’re fortunate we have a scholarship, it worked out well that way. We’re excited about it. And we’re fortunate we have a scholarship. So that worked out well that way. We’re excited about him getting here.”
Tennessee returns to the court Tuesday night when they face Mississippi State at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.