First look at Tennessee basketball’s new players on the court

Tennessee basketball is back to work inside Pratt Pavilion, with four new faces making their debuts in orange and white. The Vols on Wednesday published photos and brief video highlights from the closed summer workouts in Knoxville:

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Julian Phillips (Photo: Tennessee Athletics)


Five star wing Julian Phillips, who will wear No. 2 at Tennessee, committed to Vols on May 12, picking Rick Barnes and his satff over Auburn and an offer from the NBA’s G-League Ignite team. The 6-foot-8, 190-pound Phillips is the No. 12 overall prospect in the 2022 class according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked no. 4 among small forwards and no. 1 overall in Missouri, where he attends Link Academy. He was the highest-rated available player in the class before announced his commitment to Tennessee. The Vols hosted Phillips on an official visit in September. He visited Auburn, South Carolina and the Overtime Elite League in Atlanta after reopening his recruitment.

Rick Barnes: ”First of all, we love Julian and his family. He has the type of character and humility that we value in our program. Basketball-wise, his versatility and ability to impact the game in so many different ways is special. Julian is a three-level scorer, which is extremely valuable in our system. Defensively, we’re very excited about his combination of length and athleticism, as it enables him to effectively guard multiple positions. We expect Julian to blend nicely into our current team and make an immediate impact.”

BJ Edwards (Photo: Tennessee Athletics)


BJ Edwards, the four-star Knoxville point guard who will wear jersey no. 1, enrolled at Tennessee earlier in May, after signing with the Vols in November. The 6-foot-3, 192-pound Edwards, out of Knoxville’s Catholic High School, was ranked No. 80 overall in the 247Sports ratings in the 2022 recruiting cycle. he was the no 15 point guard in the country and the no. 3 overall prospect in the state of Tennessee. He’ll give the Vols needed depth in the backcourt after losing Kennedy Chandler to the NBA Draft.

Rick Barnes: ”BJ is a player we’ve known for a long time, and he’s a winner. He’s a complete guard who can impact the game in multiple ways. He plays with a lot of confidence and great pace. He also defends at a high level, which is an attribute we value. He’s always been an efficient scorer, but he also makes his teammates better than a distributor. We think BJ has a chance to blossom into one of the best all-around guards in the SEC if he continues to work hard and buys into our player development program. Keeping him here in Knoxville has been a priority for us.”

DJ Jefferson (Photo: Tennessee Athletics)


DJ Jefferson, who picked jersey no. 44 at Tennessee and is listed at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, was a late riser in his recruitment process, finishing his prep career as a four-star prospect in the 247Sports ratings, ranked No. 74 overall, no. 20 among small forwards and no. 1 in Minnesota, where he attended Minnesota Preparatory Academy. He committed to Tennessee and signed with the Vols on May 20. Originally from Richardson, Texas, Jefferson was previously committed to Tulsa before the program parted ways with head coach Frank Haith. Jefferson picked Tennessee the second time around over Wake Forest and Washington State.

Rick Barnes: “DJ is a lot of fun to be around. He’s got an engaging personality and infectious positive energy. That energy really translates to the basketball court. He’s an exciting player in transition who loves getting out in the open court. DJ is also a high -level defender with big shoulders and a long wingspan. I think Tennessee fans will love getting to know him and watching him compete.”

Tyreke Key (Photo: Tennessee Athletics)


Tyreke Key, the transfer shooting guard from Indiana State, will wear no. 4 with the Vols and is listed at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds. He entered the transfer portal a year ago, drawing interest from Tennessee, before he decided to stay at Indiana State. He ended up missing the 2021-22 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in November. Key got back in the transfer portal as a graduate-transfer in March and committed to the Vols on April 23. Key started 97 times in 114 games during four seasons at Indiana State, averaging 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 37.4 percent from the 3-point line on 409 attempts. Two year ago, key shot 38.9 percent on 144 3-point attempts, after shooting 44.8 percent on 96 attempts in 2018-19.

Rick Barnes: “We are all very excited about adding Tyreke to our team. He’s proven himself as a highly effective player in a strong basketball conference. He really fits everything we look for in our program. He’s a great teammate and has an outstanding work ethic that should allow for a smooth transition into what we do every day.”

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