By: Aaron Gibson
Junior Staff Writer
The All Vol Call in Show
It is officially basketball time in Tennessee. Thus far in this short season, Tennessee's two best players have been Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey, both of whom are transfers. The transfer portal can elevate a program to new heights, much like Hooker did for Tennessee football, but in other cases, it can do little or nothing for your program.
Getting players from the transfer portal is much like
recruiting. Sometimes you swing and get a hit, and other times you miss. The transfer portal during Rick Barnes's tenure at Tennessee has been full of many misses, but it appears now that Tennessee has hit the ball over the fence.
Starting in 2015-16, Barnes snatched Kevin Punter from the transfer portal. Punter began his career playing two years at State Fair Community College. During Punter's senior year, Barnes communicated to him that he should alter his unorthodox mechanics of his shot. This was the first time someone had mentioned changing his unorthodox delivery. The next season, in 2016-17, Punter averaged 22.2 points per game, leading the SEC in scoring and becoming the 10th highest scorer in the nation.
Another notable transfer came in 2017 with James Daniels III, who transferred from Howard. Although statistically he regressed, Daniels became an essential
ball handler and leader on a rejuvenated Tennessee team that won 26 games (10 more than the previous season), shared the regular season SEC championship,
finished 13th in the AP poll, and became Barnes's first team at Tennessee to make the tournament.
Victor Bailey Jr transferred to Tennessee in 2019 from Oregon, but due to NCAA rules at the time, he had to sit out for that season. In the 2020-21 season, Bailey became the third leading scorer on the team, averaging 11 points per game. However, in the next season, Tennessee welcomed Kennedy Chandler, Santiago Vescovi, and Zakai Zeigler, causing Bailey's role on the team to diminish. Bailey ended up transferring to George Mason and averaged 11.8 points per game during his two years at the school.
Other notable transfers, EJ Anosike (brother of
Lady Vol legend Nikki Anosike) and Devonte Gaines, both transferred to smaller schools and ended up having respectable careers. Anosike transferred to Cal State Fullerton and averaged nearly a double-double. Gaines averaged 8.9 in two years at George Mason.
One of the most notable transfers of the Barnes era, however, is one that ended up becoming all-conference after he transferred. Drew Pember, the local product
from Bearden High School, barely saw the floor while he was at Tennessee. At UNC Asheville, however, Pember averaged 18.6 points per game for his career and made the all-conference team multiple times.
Tennessee's two current transfers, Knecht and Gainey, both averaged double digits at their previous schools (Northern Colorado and USC Upstate) and look so
far to be the most efficient scorers on the team in this early season. Initially, Barnes brought Gainey to the program as a possible role player, but Gainey has
been able to create his own shot, shoot the three-ball from deep, and handle the ball in the open court. So far, Knecht looks like the most talented player Barnes
has had at Tennessee. Last week, Knecht was named SEC Player scoring 24 points against Wisconsin in a big road win. Gainey added 10 points of his own in only 21 minutes of play.