Tennessee Vols head coach Rick Barnes will turn 68 later this summer, but he’s not thinking about retirement.
That’s because Barnes is too busy landing elite five-star recruits.
Small forward Julian Phillips announced his commitment to Tennessee on Thursday during a ceremony that was broadcast on CBS Sports HQ.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Julian Phillips is a Vol! pic.twitter.com/41zCZJN7gj— Austin Price (@AustinPriceless) May 12, 2022
Tennessee’s 2022 recruiting class jumped from No. 77 in the nation to No. 36 in the nation with Phillips’ commitment.
Phillips, 6-foot-8/200 lbs from Blythewood, SC, is ranked as the No. 4 small forward in the nation and the No. 12 overall player in the nation.
Suffice it to say, this is a major pickup for the Vols that could help Tennessee get over the hump in 2022-23.
Phillips is a versatile player who can stretch the floor. His three-point shot is evolving, he can drive to the basket, he’s a great passer and he’s a more-than-capable defender. He’s going to be a major problem in the SEC once he adds some weight to his frame.
Landing a player like Phillips in this new age of NIL deals shows that Barnes isn’t anywhere close to following the lead of coaches like Roy Williams and Jay Wright who called it quits recently due to the ever-changing world of college sports.
Tennessee basketball didn’t have the ending to the season that it wanted last year — falling to Michigan in the second round was a brutal end to a memorable year — but the Vols aren’t going anywhere. This team is reloading and they’re ready to make another run next season under Barnes.
Featured image via Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK