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    (Photo via Washington TOC)

    Tennessee’s top point guard target in the 2020 class will be making a visit to Knoxville soon.

    According to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com, elite four-star point guard Caleb Love has rescheduled his official visit to Virginia and now also has unofficial visits planned for Kansas and Tennessee in the coming weeks. The visit dates haven’t been finalized as of yet, but the Vols will be getting a visit from the high profile point guard.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Love is right outside the five-star range and is the No. 31 overall player and No. 5 point guard in the 2020 class. He’s also the No. 1 player in the state of Missouri. The 6-foot-3 170-pound point guard plays for Christian Brothers College in St. Louis.

    The Vols extended an offer to Love back on May 8th, and the borderline five-star prospect also picked up an offer from North Carolina a couple weeks ago. Love also holds offers from Virginia, Texas, Louisville, Purdue, Indiana, Xavier, Missouri, Butler, and many others.

    With Tennessee likely losing Jordan Bone to the NBA this offseason and losing Lamonte Turner to graduation after the 2019-20 season, the Vols will be in need of a point guard for the 2020-21 season. Five-star guard and 2019 signee Josiah Jordan-James is expected to get a look at point guard for the upcoming season, but he could also be a one-and-done type of player, so his status for the 2020-21 season is a little more up in the air than the rest of the Vols’ 2019 additions.

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    Love has a phenomenal offensive game, and it’s easy to see why he’s rated so highly. He can create his own shot just about anywhere on the floor, and he’s extremely athletic and can sky for dunks just as easily as he can pull up and nail a jumper. Not only that, but Love has some incredible vision and is a highly capable floor general. He’s a crisp and accurate passer who has a knack for finding the open man and can get the ball to his teammates in difficult situations.

    Right now, Love is playing with the Brad Beal Elite team in Nike’s EYBL. That team was created by two-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Love was also named to the first team of the ALL-USA Missouri Boys Basketball Team by USA Today Sports. As a junior this season, Love averaged 18.9 points, four rebounds, just under three assists, and two steals per game while shooting over 200 free throw attempts on the season.

    So far in this year’s Nike EYBL circuit with the Brad Beal Elite team, Love has been a phenom. In 10 recorded games, he’s averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting around 46 percent overall, 42 percent from three, and 80 percent from the free throw line according to D1Circuit.com. He has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.93 in those 10 games.

    Tennessee currently has a commitment from five-star small forward Corey Walker in their 2020 class. He’s rated as the No. 22 overall prospect and a five-star on 247Sports, and their composite rankings list him as the No. 29 overall player and a four-star. The Vols are also major players for five-star guard Jaden Springer, five-star center Walker Kessler, four-star guard and No. 1 in-state player Keon Johnson, four-star forward PJ Hall, and four-star guard Bryce Thompson among other prospects.



      Photo by Allie Suber/RTI

      After going 4-8 and 5-7 in back-to-back seasons, you’re not likely to get much respect from national media outlets. Such is the case with the Vols this offseason.

      Athlon Sports released their 2019 preseason All-SEC teams this week, and there were very few Tennessee players to be found on any of the teams. Athlon didn’t just have a first and second team; no, their preseason All-SEC teams went into the third and fourth team selections as well.

      Of the 108 possible spots in Athlon’s teams, only six were occupied by Vols, and no Vol players made it onto the first team.

      Only one Vol was even voted as a Preseason Second-Team All-SEC player by Athlon, and that was wide receiver Marquez Callaway. The rising senior didn’t get voted as a second team receiver, though; his selection was for punt returner. Callaway has returned two punts for touchdowns in his three seasons as a Vol, and he averages 13.4 yards per punt return on 29 career returns. Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle earned the first team punt returner spot.

      Callaway and running back Ty Chandler were the only Vols on offense to earn a spot on any of the All-SEC teams for Athlon. Both Callaway and Chandler were voted to the fourth team offense.

      On defense, three Vols were voted as All-SEC performers. Linebacker Darrell Taylor and safety Nigel Warrior made it onto the third team defense, and cornerback Bryce Thompson was voted to the fourth team.

      All in all, only Mississippi State and Ole Miss had fewer overall selections to Athlon’s All-SEC teams. Both Mississippi schools ended up with five All-SEC performers, but Ole Miss didn’t have a player voted to either the first or second team. Vanderbilt had six All-SEC selections just like the Vols, though they had two players voted to the first team offense.

      Unsurprisingly, Alabama led the way with 13 overall selections, including seven first team choices. Florida and Auburn both had 10 All-SEC selections, and Georgia and Missouri came in fourth with nine players voted to the teams.

      The only other teams with no first team selections along with Tennessee were Ole Miss and South Carolina.

      Here’s a breakdown of how many players each team have on Athlon’s All-SEC teams with the number first team selections in parenthesis:

      Alabama – 13 (7)
      Auburn – 10 (2)
      Florida – 10 (2)
      Georgia – 9 (4)
      Missouri – 9 (3)
      South Carolina – 8
      Arkansas – 7 (1)
      Kentucky – 7 (1)
      LSU – 7 (2)
      Texas A&M – 7 (2)
      Tennessee – 6
      Vanderbilt – 6 (2)
      Mississippi State – 5 (1)
      Ole Miss – 5



        (Photo via Jeff Ireland/Collierville Herald)

        Tennessee is targeting several prospects within their own state borders during the 2020 recruiting cycle. One of those targets has included the Vols among his list of finalists.

        Jabari Small is a three-star running back who plays for Briarcrest Christian in Memphis. On Friday, he tweeted out his list of top six schools and said he would be focusing on those specific schools “until I commit.” Tennessee was included with Michigan, Texas A&M, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. Small also acknowledged that “some things may change over time,” but he intends to focus on just those six schools moving forward.

        According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Small is the No. 736 overall player, No. 10 all-purpose back, and No. 23 player in the state of Tennessee in the 2020 class. Small measures in at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds and has played mostly at running back at Briarcrest Christian but has also lined up at slot receiver and on defense.

        The Vols first sent an offer out to Small back on June 25th, just a couple days after he camped at UT. Small unofficially visited Tennessee when they hosted Alabama during the 2018 season, and he again visited the Vols in mid-March of this year. Small’s primary recruiter at Tennessee is Vol running backs coach David Johnson, and the two have a strong relationship. Tennessee’s defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley has also been in contact with Small and visited him in mid-April.

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        Not only is Small a top in-state target for the Vols, but he’s teammates with one of UT’s top overall targets in the 2020 class. Small plays with offensive tackle Omari Thomas at Briarcrest Christian, and the two have expressed interest in playing together in college. Thomas is rated as the No. 72 overall player and No. 3 prospect in the state of Tennessee per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

        As for Small, he’s a quick back who displays really good vision and footwork. He’s a shifty running back who sees a hole and attacks it. He doesn’t have a lot of wasted movement, and he tends to go north-south far more often than trying to dance around and go east-west. Small is also tougher than you might think, and he just bounces off defenders at times. He’s also a very productive returner on kick-offs and just has a lot of dynamic ability. He’ll need to add some more muscle to his frame, and he’s not a bigger, every down back most likely. But Small has a lot of potential to like.

        In his junior season with Briarcrest, Small amassed 1,118 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on just 141 carries according to MaxPreps, giving him a 7.9 yard per carry average. He also pulled down 21 receptions for 244 yards and three scores, and he returned a kick-off for a score as well. Small also plays on defense and had an interception last year, giving him five in his high school career.

        Tennessee had a running back committed to them in the 2020 class in three-star Ebony Jackson, but the Georgia running back prospect decommitted from the Vols a little over a week ago after giving UT his pledge in April. The Vols are likely to take two running backs in their 2020 class.



          (Photo via @TyrellLawrencd on Twitter)

          It’s no secret that Tennessee needs all the help they can get in the trenches moving forward. The Vols made the offensive line and defensive line big areas of focus in the 2019 recruiting cycle, and they’re doing so again for the 2020 class. One of UT’s latest offers has gone out to one of the biggest players in the 2020 cycle.

          Tyrell Lawrence is a two-way lineman who plays for Clarkson Football North up in Mississauga, Ontario in Canada. Tennessee became the first SEC school to offer Lawrence when they extended a scholarship offer to him this week.

          Lawrence measures in at a gargantuan 6-feet-7 and 370 pounds. He’s played both on the offensive line and defensive line in high school, and it remains to be seen which position he’ll play primarily at in the future.

          Right now, Lawrence isn’t rated by 247Sports or Rivals, but he’s considered one of the top linemen in Canada by Canada Football Chat, the main source of recruiting info for Canadian football recruiting. Lawrence’s first American football offer came from Howard in 2018, then he got his first FBS offer from UMass. He’s taken visits to Ohio State, Florida, and Virginia Tech and is also garnering interest from Missouri.

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          The mammoth lineman hails from Milton, Ontario and started his football career at St. Michael’s College before transferring to Clarkson before his sophomore season. He’s played a full American schedule the last two seasons.

          It’s clear from Lawrence’s highlight film that there aren’t many linemen in his area who can match up against him. His size and strength are too much for opponents to handle on both sides of the ball. Lawrence actually does a fairly good job of getting low despite his massive height advantage, and he moves very well for his size. He does a great job of kicking out to pick up blitzers when moving from the interior, and he’s a force when blocking for the run. On defense, Lawrence is a terror to block and uses his strength to his advantage. He plays through the whistle on just about every play, and he’s one of the more aggressive linemen I’ve seen in the 2020 cycle. He still has quite a bit to improve on from a technical standpoint, but he has a lot of intangibles that coaches covet.

          Lawrence has played offensive tackle, offensive guard, and defensive tackle in high school. It might make more sense for him to play defensive tackle in college, but his aggression and handwork project well as a guard, too. Lawrence was named to the CFC All-Canadians First-Team Offense after the 2018 season.

          The Vols will have plenty of opportunities to get Lawrence on campus so he can camp in front of UT’s coaches over the summer. Lawrence has already shown he’s willing to travel down to the south when he’s visited both Florida and Virginia Tech.

          Tennessee doesn’t have any offensive lineman or a defensive tackle committed to them in their 2020 class yet. Lawrence will be a name to keep an eye on at those positions in the coming months.



            (Photo via Prep Hoops)

            Tennessee continues to go after some of the top talent on the recruiting trail in the 2020 class, and they’ve now extended an offer to a four-star forward who is getting a ton of attention lately.

            Josh Hall is a 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward who plays for Moravian Prep over in Durham, North Carolina. Hall has added a lot of offers recently and has picked up a ton of attention from top programs, and he got an offer from Tennessee this week.

            According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Hall is the No. 111 overall prospect and No. 4 player in the state of North Carolina. Since the beginning of 2019, Hall has added offers from VCU, Wichita State, Cincinnati, NC State, Kansas, Virginia Tech, Florida, Pittsburgh, Texas, Xavier, Maryland, Georgetown, and Miami among others. He’s also now garnering interest from North Carolina.

            Hall was originally part of the 2019 recruiting class, but he announced in December of 2018 that he was reclassifying to the 2020 cycle.

            After a superb 2018-19 season, high major teams have begun to take notice of Hall. He also competes for Team Loaded in North Carolina in the AAU circuit. Team Loaded participated in the recent Adidas Gauntlet in April.

            Hall is about as athletic as they come in high school hoops, and he’s also extremely versatile. He’s an exceptional ball handler, and he moves quickly up and down the court. Hall has elite length and has long, deceptively powerful arms that he uses to his advantage in rebounding. Not only is he more than capable of slashing to the basket and finishing strongly at the rim, but Hall also has a very good three-point stroke. He’s particularly effective shooting from the corner and as a spot-up shooter.

            In seven recorded games with Team Loaded during the Adidas Gauntlet, Hall averaged 15.6 points and 4.1 rebounds while averaging 23.5 minutes a game according to Exposure Sports News.

            Tennessee has a commitment from five-star small forward Corey Walker in the 2020 class already, and the 6-foot-7 forward has a lot of the same versatility as Hall. Rick Barnes and his staff have been targeting a lot of prospects with positional fluidity on the recruiting trail, and they’ll have their hands full with Hall if they continue to pursue him.



              (Photo via Sports Illustrated)

              In news that should surprise no one, Geno Auriemma has taken a shot at the Lady Vols program.

              During the second annual Huskies Coaches Road Show, Auriemma met with the media and was asked about bringing in former Lady Vol guard Evina Westbrook as a transfer and the renewal of the UConn-Tennessee rivalry next season. Auriemma, ever the nemesis of Tennessee, didn’t pass up the opportunity to make a dig at the Lady Vols.

              “It’s a different world,” Auriemma said according to Jeff Jacobs of CTPost. “I never understood the big to-do about us playing Tennessee again. With all the teams we play and who we have played the last x number of years, it just doesn’t seem the same. Yeah, the name is the same but nothing else is the same.

              “It’s almost like they’re any other school now.”

              Tennessee and UConn haven’t played in women’s basketball since 2007. The two programs have gone in completely different directions since their last match-up on January 6, 2007, too.

              Since the last time the Lady Vols and Huskies have played, Tennessee won back-to-back national titles in 2007 and 2008, but they’ve failed to make it past the Elite Eight since that 2008 championship and just suffered a historically bad season last year. UConn, meanwhile, made it to the Elite Eight in 2007 and the Final Four in 2008 then went on to win six national titles in the next eight years. The Huskies have made it to the Final Four the last three seasons.

              When the two rivals last played, they were both in the spotlight of women’s hoops. Tennessee was the No. 1 team in the country in 2006 when the two teams played, and UConn was ranked seventh. When UConn and UT played in 2007, the Lady Vols were No. 4 and UConn was No. 5.

              The two will play again starting this upcoming season, and the match-up won’t have the same hype or significance as the last time. UConn will likely be a top-five team, but the Lady Vols might be just inside the top 25.

              Still, the Lady Vols have a history that isn’t comparable to any other women’s basketball program. They may have fallen in recent years, but the prestige at Tennessee is still greater than the vast majority of women’s hoops programs.

              That wasn’t all Auriemma had to say, though.

              UConn’s head coach was asked about taking in former Lady Vol guard Evina Westbrook as a transfer, specifically about her comments after Tennessee’s season came to an end. Westbrook said after UT’s loss to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that “steps need to be taken” with Tennessee off the court and with their coaching staff.

              Auriemma says he’s spoken with Westbrook about those comments.

              “Kids say things all the time,” Auriemma stated. “Coaches say things all the time. I wasn’t there. I know Holly really well. I don’t presume to know how that all went down. I’m not going to make any decision based on that. She knows the way she handled that probably wasn’t the best way to handle it. We talked about it, and she knows that.”

              It remains to be seen if Westbrook will be eligible to play for UConn this season and if she’ll have the opportunity to play against her old team when the Lady Vols head up to Connecticut. If she does, that will add some more fireworks to what already promises to be a hyped up match-up.

              The Lady Vols are 9-13 all-time against UConn, but Tennessee holds a three-game winning streak over the Huskies. No. 10 Tennessee defeated No. 15 UConn 68-67 on January 8, 2005, No. 1 Tennessee beat No. 7 UConn 89-80 on January 7, 2006, and the No. 4 Lady Vols beat No. 5 UConn 70-64 on January 6, 2007.