Tennessee is a team filled with potential that hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far. Key veterans John Fulkerson and Yves Pons returned, while Rick Barnes added two potential lottery picks in Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. The results have been mixed, and Tennessee never really hit a groove at any point during a shortened season. While the talent and potential remains, the Vols find themselves with work to do entering tournament season.
Tennessee offense has been stagnant for much of the season, but Jaden Springer has been one of the more consistent bright spots. The five-star freshman is polished and finds a way to make the right play, whether that’s finishing at the rim or dishing to an open teammate. The Volunteers were lacking a creator in the middle of the season, but they appear to have found one in Springer.
Few teams can match Tennessee’s blend of experience and youthful talent. Fulkerson and Pons have both been to multiple NCAA Tournaments, while the full potential of Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson has yet to be realized. Tennessee’s elite defense should keep them in most games and cause plenty of issues for opponents. The Volunteers just need to keep their foot on the gas and play fast on the offensive end, which we’ve seen flashes of this season.
It’s tournament time and Tennessee still hasn’t found any offensive chemistry. The Vols get stuck in grinding half-court possessions far too often, and haven’t shot the ball consistently enough to scare anyone. John Fulkerson has taken a big step backwards as a senior, and that lack of production has put a ton on the plates of freshmen Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. Tennessee is going to need the Fulkerson of old show up for the tournament, or get huge scoring days from Johnson or Springer to compete. That just doesn’t appear likely at this point.