2021-22 could be the year that Tennessee Vols junior guard Santiago Vescovi becomes a household name in the SEC.

When Vescovi arrived at Tennessee in the middle of the 2019-20 season, he was thrust into the lineup at point guard, which isn’t his natural position.

Vescovi helped hold down the point guard spot as a sophomore last season as well. He played well, but he wasn’t able to utilize his full skill set while playing point guard.

Fortunately Vescovi and the Vols, Tennessee has two true points guards this season in true freshmen Kennedy Chandler (the top-rated point guard in 247Sports’ composite rankings) and Zakai Zeigler.

The presence of Chandler and Zeigler will allow Vescovi to play off the ball more and play “creatively”.

Vols assistant coach Michael Schwartz sounded extremely optimistic about Vescovi during his recent detailed breakdown of the Uruguay native.

From UTSports.com:

“(Santiago Vescovi’s) overall presence is so strong right now. The way he’s grown this offseason… there’s a confidence about him right now. His presence with the team is different than it’s ever been. He’s playing creative, which is where he thrives. Coach Barnes is excited about that. Santi’s shooting the ball really well. His defense was a bit of a question when he first joined our program, but he’s developed into one of our best on-ball defenders. He has done an amazing job transforming his game. Even though he’s not the most athletic or the fastest, his anticipation skills, his pace, his feet, his ability to keep teams off-balance and know when to turn the pressure up is very high level. And he’s very smart off the ball, with his ability to anticipate.”

“He’s leading with his communication out there, his ability to handle the pressure of practice. He’s able to be himself and is in a very good place. And he’s starting to become a teammate who impacts the guys around him and bring them with him.”

“The three guys on the team we need to lead like that are John FulkersonJosiah-Jordan James , and (Santi). Those three have the power, the voice, and the mental toughness to bring other guys with them. He is definitely one of those cornerstones now.”

Junior guard Josiah-Jordan James seems to agree with Schwartz’s preseason evaluation of Vescovi.

“He’s (Vescovi) gotten his body in shape, his game is the best that I’ve ever seen it offensively and defensively,” said James earlier this month. “I think that he’s definitely in for a big season this year.”

Tennessee is ranked No. 18 in the preseason AP top 25. If Vescovi plays to his full potential, the Volunteers could end up out-performing preseason expectations by a wide margin.

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