Vols land top-ranked guard Chandler for ’21 class

  • Basketball recruiting insider.
  • Joined ESPN in 2014.
  • Graduate of University of Delaware.

  • National Recruiting Director for ESPN.com
  • 18 years of coaching experience at Division I level
  • Former Horizon League coach of the year at Wright State

Kennedy Chandler, the top-ranked point guard in the 2021 ESPN 100, committed to Tennessee on Friday, giving the Volunteers a five-star recruit for the third straight year.

Chandler, who is ranked No. 12 overall in the ESPN 100, chose Rick Barnes’ program over a final group that also included Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Memphis.

“I want to go where the school felt like it was home,” Chandler told ESPN. “I was looking for a program that could help me develop and have a strong family atmosphere, and a coach I could relate to. Tennessee and Rick Barnes made me feel that way.”

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It continues a strong recruiting run for Barnes, who has landed six ESPN 100 prospects in the past four classes.

After not landing a five-star recruit since Jarnell Stokes in 2011, Tennessee has now received such a commitment from Josiah James in 2019, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson in 2020, and now Chandler.

“Coach Barnes is a funny guy and tells great stories,” Chandler said. “But he’s serious on the basketball court and I like that about him. I need someone who will push me, and he is someone I can relate to. He coached a point guard that was national player of the year in T.J. Ford, and he sees a T.J. Ford in me. [Assistant] coach Kim English has been recruiting me hard and we have built a great relationship, too.”

Chandler is a 6-foot-1 point guard from Memphis, Tennessee, who will attend Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas) this year. He played 20 games for MoKan Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit last spring and summer, averaging 15.1 points, 6.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds. Chandler followed that up with 22.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game for Briarcrest Christian (Tennessee) last season.

He’s a fast and quick point guard who plays a downhill game. His style is to attack and probe the defense. His quick blow-by dribble gets him into the paint on a regular basis, and he has added a floater, which will serve him well against the size of the SEC.

Chandler is special because he is outstanding in the open floor, yet he understands how to execute in the half court. He’s also an adept distributor, delivering sharp passes, and can disrupt defensively due to his quick hands and feet. The next step for Chandler is to extend his shooting range, especially off ball-screens.

Chandler is the third-highest-ranked recruit to pick Tennessee since the ESPN recruiting database began in 2007, following Tobias Harris (No. 6) in 2010 and Scotty Hopson (No. 9) in 2008.

Look for Barnes and the Volunteers to remain in strong pursuit of elite frontcourt prospect Paolo Banchero (No. 3), who has a good relationship with Chandler. The two have talked about teaming up at the college level.

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