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Former Tennessee Basketball Stars Gearing Up For NBA Season

Tennessee NBA
Former Tennessee basketball player Grant Williams. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

There will be six former Tennessee basketball stars rostered across the league for the start of the 2023-2024 NBA season on Tuesday night.

Two games will take place on Tuesday night to begin the season, although neither game will feature one of the six Tennessee players. The rest of the league will begin their season sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.

Four of the six players were coached under Rick Barnes while Donnie Tyndall, Cuonzo Martin, and Bruce Pearl covered the other two.

More from RTI: Which Tennessee Basketball Players Landed On Preseason Watch Lists

Tennessee’s six players rostered for the start of the NBA season are as follows:

Forward Tobias Harris – Philadelphia 76ers

Tennessee NBA
Former Tennessee players Tobias Harris and Grant Williams battling in the NBA Playoffs. Photo via Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) on Twitter.

After playing on Rocky Top for one season during Bruce Pearl’s final year at Tennessee, Harris is now entering his 13th season in the NBA. Philadelphia moved on from Doc Rivers at the end of last season to bring in Nick Nurse, and the 76ers media believes this could be a productive move for Harris, especially considering the questionable status of star guard James Harden heading into the season. Harris has been a productive veteran during his long career and has averaged 17.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists over the span of five years with the Sixers.

Opening Game: 76ers at Bucks – TNT 7:30 p.m. ET – Thursday, Oct. 26

Guard Josh Richardson – Miami Heat

Tennessee NBA
KNOXVILLE, TN – JANUARY 28, 2013: guard Josh Richardson #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Wade Rackley/Tennessee Athletics

Josh Richardson is back with the Miami Heat for the 2023-2024 season. The Heat drafted the Tennessee product in the second round of the 2015 draft after Richardson played for both Tyndall and Martin in Knoxville. Richardson spent his first four years in Miami before quick stops in San Antonio, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans over the last few years. Richardson averaged 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists during the 2022-2023 season.

The former Volunteer may not be ready to go for the Heat’s season opener, though. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinal reported that Richardson did not practice with the Heat on Tuesday due to a foot injury.

Opening Game: Pistons at Heat – 7:30 p.m. ET – Wednesday, Oct. 25

Forward Grant Williams – Dallas Mavericks

Tennessee NBA
Former Tennessee and current Dallas Mavericks forward Grant Williams. Photo via Grant Williams (@GrantWill2) on Instagram.

Former Tennessee Vol Grant Williams signed with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason after four standout years with the Boston Celtics. Williams made a name off of his defensive abilities which is exactly why the Mavericks brought him in. Dallas has offensive firepower with superstars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving but has been missing a strong defensive presence since the trade for Irving took place. Williams will be able to provide Dallas with that consistent defensive big man that they were lacking but also gives the Mavericks more space offensively, whether that be used to get him looks near the basket or to let Doncic and Irving operate with more room on the court. The Mavericks have several talented pieces that can push for a playoff run and Dallas is hoping that Williams will be one of the key offseason signings this season. Williams averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists during his final season in Boston.

Opening Game: Mavericks at Spurs – ESPN 9:30 p.m. ET – Wednesday, Oct. 25

Forward Admiral Schofield – Orlando Magic

Tennessee NBA
Former Tennessee basketball star Admiral Schofield. Photo via Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Former Vol Admiral Schofield is back with the Orlando Magic on a two-way contract entering the 2023-2024 NBA season. Schofield is a unique player on the court who brings a veteran presence with him due to all the obstacles that he has overcome during his time in the league.

“For me, my role is a lot different than [other] guys,” Schofield said at Magic Media Day. “I pretty much back up every position but point guard. So for me, it’s just about being as healthy as possible, being in the best shape as I can be, but being the best leader I can be this year as well.”

Schofield averaged 4.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.8 assists over the span of 37 games for the Magic during the 23-24 season.

Opening Game: Rockets at Magic – 7:00 p.m. ET – Wednesday, Oct. 25

Guard Jaden Springer – Philadelphia 76ers

Tennessee NBA
KNOXVILLE, TN – January 26, 2021 – Guard Jaden Springer #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Mississippi St. Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson–Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Jaden Springer is heading into his third year and the league and has drawn a lot of praise from his Philadelphia 76ers teammates in the lead-up to the season. Springer averaged 2.6 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.5 assists during 16 appearances for Philadelphia last season.

“He’s been huge,” Tyrese Maxey said about Springer via Sixers Wire. “…What he brings on the defensive end is special and now, he’s finally starting to shoot those open 3s that I’ve been asking him to shoot and he’s been great.”

“I think with that attitude and that discipline of sacrificing his time away from his play, his time away from his personal agenda, putting it all to the team, putting it all to basketball, nothing but good stuff happens from that,” Patrick Beverly said of Springer via Sixers Wire. “If it was one thing I’m impressed by, it’s the sacrifice to this team.”

Opening Game: 76ers at Bucks – TNT 7:30 p.m. ET – Thursday, Oct. 26

Forward Julian Phillips – Chicago Bulls

Julian Phillips
Former Vol Julian Phillips playing with the Chicago Bulls in the 2023 NBA Summer League. Photo via Chicago Bulls on Twitter.

Former Vol Julian Phillips helped lead Tennessee to the Sweet 16 last season and will now look to help out the Chicago Bulls in his rookie season. Phillips has been garnering quite a bit of attention from the Chicago media in the build to the season with a fairly well-crafted road to early playing time. Phillips is a versatile defender from his time at Tennessee and is continuing to develop the offensive side of his game. One of the optimistic aspects of Phillips’ Summer League run was that he shot 44.4 percent from three-point range, which is quite better than his 23 percent average at Tennessee, despite the smaller sample size.

Opening Game: Thunder at Bulls – 8:00 p.m. ET – Wednesday, Oct. 25

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