Next season, Tennessee basketball will undergo significant changes in its appearance…

While Tennessee basketball is expected to rank among the top ten teams next year, the lineup is set to undergo substantial alterations come fall.
Rocky Top is experiencing significant changes within the Tennessee basketball program. With three starters graduating and four players entering the transfer portal, including two key playmakers, the team’s dynamics are shifting. Jonas Aidoo, the latest departure, is evaluating his options this offseason, mirroring Bronny James by declaring for the NBA Draft while also entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. His decision follows some disappointing showings against formidable big forwards and centers towards the end of the season.
Aidoo’s limited playing time against Purdue, particularly after a challenging matchup against Zach Edey, may have been a turning point. Rick Barnes’ decision to trust freshman JP Estrella over the more seasoned Aidoo could have left Aidoo feeling sidelined. It’s possible that Aidoo recognized Estrella as the better fit for the team, potentially signaling his future role under the coaching staff’s perspective for the upcoming season. Behind-the-scenes dynamics, including recruiting, the transfer portal, and competition for playing time, often play a significant role in these transfer decisions.
With Aidoo joining Tobe Awaka, DJ Jefferson, and Freddie Dilione V in the transfer portal, it appears that all four players are seeking to depart from Rocky Top. Assuming their exits, Tennessee’s team composition for the next season will be drastically different. Zakai Zeigler stands as the sole returning starter, compelling Rick Barnes to utilize both the transfer portal and current roster members to rebuild a competitive squad for the SEC. Tennessee has already begun exploring options in the transfer portal, including hosting visits for Belmont guard Cade Tyson and Hofstra guard Darlinstone Dubar. While these additions could bolster the team’s perimeter shooting, there remains a need to address the frontcourt. One player generating significant interest is Northern Colorado’s Saint Thomas, who posted impressive averages of 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists last season while shooting 47.2% from the field.
Whether the Vols go for Thomas or another forward to add to the lineup for next season, we will be watching a very different team next season. It’s also not ideal to have four players in the transfer portal with the possibility of more joining them, but it’s not time to pani
The Vols still have a strong lineup going into next season without the additions they will get through the transfer portal. Is it All-SEC? Probably not, but Barnes knows how to recruit and bring top talent to Knoxville from the portal. I expect him to do the same again this year and have the Vols ready to compete for another SEC title when conference play rolls around next season.

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