Let’s be honest, it’s not basketball season yet. Technically speaking, Tennessee’s basketball season began last week but with two regular-season football games still to go, we probably have to get to mid-December or even January before it will feel like basketball is in full swing.

This slow transition from one major sport to another happens every year but I’m here to tell you that you should go out of your way to lock in on Vol basketball early this season.

You likely know that Rick Barnes’ squad has a huge top 25 matchup with Villanova coming up this Saturday. The game is at 1 p.m. ET and is the perfect way to pass the time before the football game against South Alabama at 7 p.m. that night.

There are some other pretty obvious reasons that you should tune in: Villanova is the No. 4 team in America and they’re coached by a living legend in Jay Wright. It’s an opportunity to get a massive early-season win for the Vols.

Those reasons alone should get folks to watch but the biggest reasons you shouldn’t miss out on watching this game will all be wearing orange and white uniforms on Saturday. Tennessee has had some very exciting rosters during the Barnes era but this one might be his most intriguing ever.

The Vols have the No. 1 rated point guard from the 2021 recruiting class in Kennedy Chandler. And while we’ve seen some highly-rated prospects come through UT, Chandler looks different.

Just check out some of these highlights from his first college basketball game ever…

Just a few days after his huge initial game, Chandler dropped 16 points against ETSU and did this…

The kid is a sharpshooter with incredible vision and high basketball IQ and he will undoubtedly be at UT for only one season because he’s already got NBA scouts drooling over his talent.

If nothing else, make sure you watch all of the Vol basketball that you can this year for Chandler alone. A player that looks that sharp from the second he steps on a college basketball court for the first time is extremely rare. In fact, I don’t think the Big Orange has ever had a prospect like him. Please don’t let his time here pass you by.

But that’s not all!

Big man John Fulkerson is playing in the final season of his 20ish year career at UT. Fulkerson is a local kid who has stuck it out with the Big Orange through injuries, covid, ups, downs, and everything in between. He’s the definition of a Vol for Life and his final campaign should be appreciated.

And let’s not forget other big-time prospects like 5-star Brandon Huntley-Hatfield will be in the Vols’ rotation. Also, fun veterans like Santiago Vescovi and Victor Bailey Jr. are returning and transfers like long-range specialist Justin Powell are bringing other interesting new twists.

The bottom line is that Tennessee has a deep, experienced, fun squad that should be appointment TV every time they take the court. I know it’s still football season but please, don’t wait until SEC play in January to check out this squad. You won’t regret it.

Featured image via Saul Young/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services