Tennessee Volunteers Basketball: 5 Reasons the Vols Have a Shot at the Title
The Tennessee Volunteers men's basketball team has faced its fair share of adversity this offseason, but the Vols are looking to put that all behind them.
In case you don't know, the Vols' coach, Bruce Pearl, invited recruits Josh Selby, Jordan McRae, and Aaron Craft to his house for a barbecue, with the knowledge that the event was an NCAA recruiting violation.
The NCAA then subsequently slapped Pearl and the Vols with recruiting sanctions.
However, despite all the bad news out of Knoxville, the Volunteers appear posed for a strong run in the NCAA tournament.
In the next few slides I'll break down just how good these 2010 Vols are, and just why they have a legitimate shot at a national championship.
2010-11 Tennessee Volunteers' Projected Starting Lineup
This is the projected starting lineup for the Tennessee Vols, with a number of key reserves, as well.
PG—Melvin Goins, Sr.
SG—Scotty Hopson, Jr.
SF—Cameron Tatum, Jr.
PF—Tobias Harris, Fr.
C—Brian Williams, Sr.
PG/SG—Trae Golden, Fr.
SG/SF—Jordan McRae, Fr.
PF/C—John Fields, Sr.
SF—Renaldo Woolridge, Jr.
PF—Steven Pearl, Sr.
PG/SG—Skyler McBee, So.
PF/C—Kenny Hall, So.
PG/SG—Josh Bone, Jr.
1. The Arrival of Tobias Harris
Harris, who is in white and blue in the picture above, was the number one power forward in this season's recruiting class, and looks to be just that and more for the Volunteers.
Tobias was a consensus top ten player in the nation after a dominating high school career.
With the void left from Wayne Chism last year, Harris looks to fill that role as an enforcer in the post.
Harris stood out with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in his collegiate debut against Brevard on November 3.
If Harris keeps this line up, he could be the star these Vols have been searching for.
(Photo by Adam Brimer, GoVolsXtra.com)
2. The Addition of Transfer John Fields
John Fields, a 6'9", 250 lb center, transferred to the Vols this offseason from UNC-Wilmington, as he was granted an extra year of eligibility for purusing a graduate degree.
Fields adds a huge boost the Volunteers front line, and is likely to start beside Brian Williams.
Both have similar games, and they provide the Vols with much-needed depth.
Fields won't light the nation on fire with his numbers, but he will be a solid contributor in rebounds and blocks and is exactly the defensive enforcer that the Vols need.
(Photo credit to Volquest.com)
3. Scotty Hopson's Development as the Team's Leader
Hopson, who is a projected first-round pick in next season's NBA Draft, will be the key to the Vols' offense.
At 6'5", 220 lbs, Hopson is a perfect wing player for Bruce Pearl's high-paced offense and looks to make great strides this season.
Known largely for missing a free-throw that would have sent the Tennessee-Michigan St. Elite Eight game into overtime last season, Hopson said the miss "haunted him" all throughout the offseason. It showed, as he showed big improvement during summer practices.
If Hopson can become a leader and a Wooden Award candidate this season, then the Vols could find themselves back in the Elite Eight this season and maybe even further.
4. Senior Leadership of Point Guard Melvin Goins
Melvin Goins is not very well known outside the state of Tennessee.
Not that Goins is bad, rather he just hasn't had an opportunity to stand out so far.
But Bruce Pearl has handed the keys to the offense to Goins, and it is now his job to lead the Vols as well as his predecessor, Bobby Maze, did last season.
Goins has great ball-handling skills and is a decently good driver and shooter.
If the Volunteers make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this season, it will be because Goins steps up his game.
5. Their Championship-Caliber Depth and Experience
While this Vols team is arguably less talented after the loss of key seniors J.P. Prince, Wayne Chism, and Bobby Maze, one can also argue that the Volunteers have one of the deepest teams in the country.
The Volunteers added freshmen Tobias Harris, Jordan McRae, and Trae Golden and added two transfers in John Fields and Jeronne Maymon, a former Marquette Golden Eagle who was a 4-star prospect out of high school.
With all of these additions and the experience of Kenny Hall, Josh Bone, Skyler McBee, and Steven Pearl, this Volunteer team may more than make up for the drop in talent from last season.
The depth inside--with Brian Williams, John Fields, and Tobias Harris--shows that the Vols' front court could be a force to be reckoned with all season long.
Outside, Melvin Goins and Scotty Hopson have potential to be stars in the SEC with solid and consistent play.
Watch out for this team. They seem to be under the radar again this season, but that's just the way they like it.
Gage Arnold is a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and is a Writing Intern for Bleacher Report.