Tennessee’s most anticipated freshman since…Tobias Harris? Jarnell Stokes? Robert Hubbs? Anyway, per Evan Daniels of 247, his closest comparison is Troy Brown (video?). James loves to attack the rim, as evidenced here:
High school stats are notably unreliable, but James averaged 29.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.3 blocks per game (!), and 4.9 assists in his final season, per The State. It appears he’ll be Tennessee’s main perimeter threat in terms of driving to the rim and creating space/opportunities.
Rangy positionless weirdo. Nkamhoua was a late take in Tennessee’s class after an unexpected departure or two, but he was also a late riser in recruiting due to an injury that ended his junior year before it started. Basically: Nkamhoua has one serious year of film out there, and apparently, it was good enough to get him nearly in the 247 Composite Top 100. I mention “positionless weirdo” for the following reason: prior to the injury, he was a 6’4” shooting guard. He enters UT as a 6’8” power forward. There’s not a ton to go off of on him, but he has a pretty decent shot and sounds like a very good rebounder.
DREW PEMBER/DAVONTE GAINES
Neither will be playing much basketball in their first year, so they both go here. Neither is a good shooter, but Gaines is at least pretty quick and 247 was high on his defense in high school, which is fairly rare praise for high schoolers. Pember sounds like a solid enough defensive rebounder and experimented with a three-pointer in high school to limited effect (26.2% on 65 attempts, per MaxPreps).
Serbian big man! Plavsic, depending on who you ask, is either 7’0” or 7’1” with decent mobility. Plavsic was a four-star high school recruit that went to Arizona State initially after playing at Hamilton Heights in Chattanooga. He’s now here; no one yet knows whether he’ll be cleared to play, but it seems likely. Knowledge on Plavsic’s game seems limited at best, as he was easily the tallest player on the floor for Hamilton Heights against high school competition. To my knowledge, he seems useful as a roll man, a screener, and as a guy that can pick up some cheap points on offensive rebounds. Tennessee needs all three of those things.
Honestly, who knows? Tennessee lost their top three scorers from last season and returns just two players on the entire roster that averaged more than 3.1 points per game…but, as usual, you kind of assume the floor is only so low with the returners + newcomers. After operating last season with the best offense in school history, this one’s not going to look nearly as clean, but it’ll be fun to watch develop as the season goes on. I expect the offense to be several points better in March compared to November. That said, season totals measure all games played, not just the final ten. It’s an offense that will struggle frequently against better competition to start; therefore, I’ll say it finishes 72nd in KenPom’s Adjusted Offense rankings in 2019-20.