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What’s Next For Tennessee Basketball In The Transfer Portal?

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball landed its second commitment in the transfer portal on Thursday morning when Ohio State center Felix Okpara committed to the Vols less than a week after entering the transfer portal.

The Vols now have four scholarships left as they look to fill out their roster ahead of the 2023-24 season. Tennessee will likely fill out a spot or two with project prep players but that still leaves two or three spots available for Rick Barnes and his staff to use in the transfer portal.

Who are the most pressing names to know for Tennessee?

Charlotte transfer Igor Milicic is nearing a decision after taking visits to Nebraska, Tennessee and Baylor after entering the portal.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound stretch four has one year of eligibility remaining after playing his freshman season at Virginia and his next two seasons at Charlotte. As a junior at Charlotte, Milicic averaged 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

The versatile forward is a plus-defender and can do a myriad of things on the offensive end of the court. He’s best as a perimeter shooter where he made 56 three-pointers last season at a 37.6% clip.

Having taken all of his visits, Milicic is likely nearing a decision. Tennessee sits in a good spot for the Croatia native as he does.

Another player that’s visited Tennessee basketball and hasn’t made a decision is Belmont’s Cade Tyson. The best shooter in the transfer portal, Tyson shot 47% from three-point range as a sophomore with the Bruins while adding 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

The Monroe, North Carolina native visited Tennessee two weekends ago and North Carolina last weekend. North Carolina is Tyson’s dream school and it feels like the Vols are fighting an uphill battle here. But the fact that Tyson still hasn’t committed to the Tar Heels yet is worth noting.

How the 6-foot-7 Tyson would fit on a roster that’s already added one wing transfer in Hofstra’s Darlinstone Dubar and could add another in Milicic makes Tyson’s potential fit a curious one.

More From RTI: How Ohio State Transfer Felix Okpara Compares To Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka

A new name that emerged for Tennessee basketball in the transfer portal on Wednesday afternoon was North Florida’s Chaz Lanier. Perhaps the best scorer in the portal, Lanier averaged 19.7 points on 51% shooting from the field and 44% shooting from three-point range a season ago.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard added 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game last season and would be a fantastic addition to the Vols’ backcourt alongside Zakai Zeigler.

There’s some interesting moving pieces with the graduate transfer who has just one year of eligibility remaining. He currently is going through the NBA Draft Process and while originally grad transfers had no deadline before entering the portal, that changed earlier this week and they have to enter the transfer portal by the May 1 deadline.

Lanier didn’t hop into the portal until after the rule change which seems to indicate that he’s not going to make any decisions soon as he continues to go through the draft process. College players have until May 29 to remove their name from the NBA Draft while maintaining their college eligibility.

Another detail of note on Lanier is that he reportedly entered the portal with a “no contact tag” on. That means no teams are currently allowed to contact him despite the fact that he’s in the transfer portal. That could bode well for Tennessee. Lanier is a Nashville native who played his prep basketball at the Ensworth School.

Lanier has a good relationship with former Tennessee guards Jordan and Josh Bone. That relationship is something that’s working to the Vols advantage as they look to pursue the elite transfer guard.

That no contact tag could mean nothing. If he decides to withdrawal from the NBA Draft, he could decide to take the tag off and go through a normal recruiting process.

One other team to watch for Lanier is Maryland. Lanier has a relationship with fellow Tennessee native Ja’Kobi Gillespie who is transferring from Belmont to Maryland.

Milicic, Tyson and Lanier are currently the top names to watch for Tennessee basketball in the transfer portal.

But the Vols have also reportedly contacted Minnesota’s Elijah Hawkins since he entered the transfer portal earlier this week. A 5-foot-11 point guard, Hawkins averaged 9.5 points and 7.5 assists per game as a junior last season.

Tennessee landing Hawkins feels unlikely since he is a point guard and the Vols already have one of the top point guards in the country in Zakai Zeigler.

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