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Tennessee Basketball Ranked As Top Five Team Entering 2023-24 Season

Tennessee Basketball
Tennessee Basketball. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/ Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee basketball’s offseason was a fruitful one. The Vols landed some of their top targets in the transfer portal and returned seniors Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James for their super senior seasons.

The incoming and returning talent has Tennessee as a consensus top 15 team entering the season with most viewing Rick Barnes’ ninth Tennessee team as a top 10 squad. Some analysts even view Tennessee as a top five team and that includes The Athletic’s CJ Moore and Sam Vecenie.

The Athletic released its preseason college basketball rankings Monday morning and Tennessee came in at No. 5 in the rankings.

“Seven of the team’s top nine players figure to be juniors or seniors,” Moore and Vecenie wrote. “But whereas last season was typically a dog fight, this season the Vols have substantially upgraded their offensive firepower.”

The duo dives in on some of the biggest questions facing Tennessee this season and that’s about how much better the Vols’ offense can be.

Transfers Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey bring perimeter shooting to the roster and Tennessee hopes their shooting percentages at their previous schools (Northern Colorado and USC-Upstate) translate in the SEC.

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Redshirt freshman Freddie Dilione is a talented scorer and gives the Vols another guard that can create off the dribble besides Zakai Zeigler.

Than there’s returners like Tobe Awaka and Jahmai Mashack whose physicality could give Tennessee more consistent inside scoring if they continue to develop.

But the exciting thing about the five players previously mentioned is that they are the cherry on top to a returning core of SEC starters.

“The backbone of this team is still upperclass returnees Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Zakai Zeigler, and Jonas Aidoo. If Zeigler can return from the torn ACL he suffered on Feb. 28, this team will have every piece necessary to cut down the nets. But what Rick Barnes and company have done is build a roster that won’t be reliant upon that, either. This team is truly loaded.”

Those veteran returners make Tennessee’s floor extremely high in the ever changing sport that is college basketball.

Nationally, Tennessee comes in behind Kansas, Marquette, Duke, and Purdue. Kansas, Marquette and Purdue are all in the Maui Invitation field along with the Vols. Purdue is on Tennessee’s side of the bracket too.

Tennessee is the highest ranked of four SEC teams in The Athletic’s top 25, coming in ahead of No. 16 Kentucky, No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 24 Auburn

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