He coached such superstars as Kevin Durant during his 17-year stint at the University of Texas, so new Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes is in for a bit of a shock when he sees the roster he’s inheriting in Knoxville.
Hired as the Vols’ head man roughly 72 hours after being fired by the “other” UT on Saturday, Barnes went 402-180 in 17 seasons at Austin, with 16 NCAA Tournament bids. He advanced the Longhorns to five Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights and one Final Four. Prior to that he took Providence to three Dances in six years and Clemson to three in four years. He began his coaching career at George Mason, leaving after going 20-10 in Year 1. His overall record is 604-314.
In 28 years as a head coach Barnes probably never encountered a roster quite as weak as the one he’s inheriting at Tennessee. Minus 2014-15 scoring/assists/steals leader Josh Richardson, the current roster is thin, and could be getting thinner. Several Vols with eligibility remaining may head for the door. Barnes may hold it open for some of them.
Only one player remains from Cuonzo Martin's November 2012 signing class, Robert Hubbs. No one is left from Martin's November 2013 class. Basically, Barnes assumes a bunch of guys Donnie Tyndall scraped together during a typically weak spring signing period one year ago. The Vol cupboard isn't bare but it's close.
That said, here’s a look at the players scheduled to return:
Armani Moore: The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder acquitted himself quite well as an undersized power forward in 2014-15, averaging 10.3 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds per game. He started all 32 games. Though better suited physically to small forward, he lacks the shooting range to play there. He’ll be a senior in 2015-16.
Kevin Punter: The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder proved solid at shooting guard in 2014-15, connecting on 41.9 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from 3 en route to averaging 10.3 points per game. He started 31 games and served as the chief backup at point guard. He also will be a senior in 2015-16.
Robert Hubbs: The 6-foot-6, 206-pounder rallied in March to raise his scoring average to 7.2 points per game. He shot 33.3 percent from 3-point range and started 20 times. He doesn’t rebound very well for a small forward but is unlikely to beat out Punter for the off-guard role. He will be a junior in 2015-16.
Derek Reese: This 6-foot-8, 220-pounder has been Mr. Erratic at Tennessee – rarely putting two good games together. He averaged 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds last season, splitting time between center and power forward. He started 11 times and shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. He will be a senior in 2015-16.
Devon Baulkman: The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder, led Tennessee in 3-point percentage with a 38.1 mark. Slowed by shoulder problems, he started seven times but averaged a mere 4.7 points per game. He showed some flashes in March when his shoulder was sound. Baulkman will be a senior in 2015-16.
Jabari McGhee: This 6-foot-8, 210-pounder showed promise before suffering a season-ending foot injury in Game 8. He averaged just 4.4 points per game but shot 70 percent (14 of 20) from the field and gave the Vols decent post defense. He will be a redshirt freshman in 2015-16.
Detrick Mostella: The 6-foot-3,170-pounder has as much athleticism as any player in program history but lacks the strength to utilize it. Relying almost exclusively on his 3-point stroke, he shot just 27.6 percent from the field en route to averaging 3.4 points per game. He’ll be a sophomore in 2015-16 but it may not be for the Vols. Tennessee is his fourth school in four years.
Willie Carmichael: This 6-foot-8, 210-pounder was best known for his fouling as a freshman in 2014-15. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds, with 19 starts. His greatest knack is offensive rebounding, as 44 of his 75 boards came off the offensive glass. He will be a sophomore in 2015-16.
Tariq Owens: This 6-foot-10, 205-pounder is a good shot-blocker but his spindly frame needs a lot more bulk before he can play post offense and defense at the SEC level on a consistent basis. He averaged just 1.2 points and 1.1 rebounds per game last season. Already looking at some transfer options, he will be a sophomore in 2015-16.
In addition to these returnees, Barnes inherits two November signees — 6-foot-6, 220-pound small forward Admiral Schofield and 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard Shembari Phillips. Both are solid but neither is considered to be an instant-impact type of player.
Insider Report: Barnes' presser