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Trio Of Tennessee Basketball Players Land On Coaches Preseason All-SEC Teams

Zakai Zeigler SEC Media Day
Tennessee guards Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

A trio of Tennessee basketball players landed on the two Preseason Coaches All-SEC teams on Thursday afternoon. Super senior shooting guard Santiago Vescovi and junior point guard Zakai Zeigler landed on the eight-player First Team while super senior forward Josiah-Jordan James landed on the eight-player second team.

Vescovi was a First Team All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches each of the last two seasons after breaking out as one of the conference’s best players as a junior. Last season, Vescovi averaged 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 37% from the perimeter.

The senior guard is the SEC’s top perimeter shooters and kept Tennessee’s offense afloat after Zeigler suffered a season ending ACL injury on the final day of February.

Vescovi didn’t play in either of Tennessee’s two preseason exhibitions while traveling back home to spend time with his family. The super senior returned to Tennessee’s campus on Wednesday and will be available for next week’s season opener.

Zeigler was Tennessee’s spark plug as a freshman in 2021-22 and had growing pains as a starting point guard last season. Still, Zeigler was steadily improving by the start of SEC play and was one of the conference’s best pass first point guards before tearing his ACL the final week of the regular season.

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The 5-foot-9 point guard averaged 10.7 points, 5.4 assists and two steals per game a season ago and totaled five double-doubles in SEC games.

Zeigler also missed both of Tennessee’s exhibition games while he returns from the knee injury but has been a active participant in the Vols’ practices open to the media.

James is back for his super senior season after missing 12 games with various injuries a season ago. The versatile forward averaged 10 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and will play a big role as a stretch four in his final college season.

Expectations are high for the 2023-24 Tennessee team after returning Zeigler, Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James from last season’s Sweet 16 team. The Vols also added transfers Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey and are hoping returning role players such as Tobe Awaka and Jahmai Mashack take a step forward.

Tennessee opens its 2023-24 season on Monday, Nov. 6 against Tennessee Tech at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City.

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