The Monday Mailbag

You ask the questions. We answer them. Everybody goes home happy.

Which of Rick Barnes' freshmen has improved the most from preseason practices until now? — Danny
The most improved freshman at Tennessee this season is the one who's named after an insurance company in the United Kingdom. Admiral Schofield's rise to becoming a key piece to the Vols' future nucleus isn't too surprising when you figure he was brought in by Rick Barnes as a talented power forward whose enormous 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame liken him more to a linebacker than a forward. But Schofield struggled the most this summer in Rocky Top League play against older, more experienced players and looked lost at times on offense. His rise to the starting ranks is the most impressive out of any of the freshmen players so far, but not only is he the most improved player, he's also the statistically best freshman on the court. Schofield leads all Tennessee freshmen in minutes (17.9), points (6.9), rebounds (3.9), steals (0.4) and free throw percentage (.903). He's also shooting 41 percent from the field and is growing defensively from his first days as a wide-eyed freshman. You could really make a case for Schofield, Kyle Alexander or Shembari Phillips. All of them have played extremely well at times and will be the backbone of this team moving forward. But The Admiral just looks like he's developed the most in this short time, and he's got the stats to prove it.
Will either Robert Hubbs or Detrick Mostella be on the roster next year? — cartersvillevol
This is a question Tennessee fans cringe as they ask. Two players who were suppoed to be key cogs on the 2015-16 team have morphed into inconsistent role players for Rick Barnes' squad. Hubbs simply hasn't been the same player since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and has been chastised repeatedly by Barnes in practices and press conferences. The first-year Vols head coach even questioned Hubbs' injury status after he didn't play Saturday against Arkansas. 
"He said something's wrong with his knee, but I didn't expect him to play at all," Barnes said. "With the way he walked around, I didn't expect him at all. I've learned not to have any great expectations there." 
To me, Barnes isn't nearly as frustrated with Mostella as he is with Hubbs. I don't foresee a scenario where the sharp-shooting sophomore isn't back with Tennessee, but Hubbs is a different case. I think both will return at the moment but we've got a long way to go until next November.
What player are you most looking forward to watching in spring practice? — James 
I like to focus on the defense in spring practice, so I'll be taking a detailed look at defensive back Rashaan Gaulden. The redshirt sophomore's season was lost with a broken foot and Tennessee missed him dearly, especially early. Gaulden was set to start at nickelback and I'm curious to see if he'll retain that role or move to safety. The Vols' secondary will receive a massive depth boost with Gaulden coming back coupled with a talented defensive back class in the class of 2016, and it will be really intriguing to see how new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop utilizes Gaulden and the early enrollees this spring.
Is Lamonte' Turner considered the slam dunk starter at point guard next year? — cherokee04
Without a doubt. Turner would have played a ton this season if he were eligibile and he runs the point in practice scrimmaging against the first team to test Kevin Punter and help him defensively. Turner is a true point guard with great vision, smooth handles and a nice stroke. I consider him the most important person in the 2016 class coming in, and the Vols will be able to transition from Punter to a point guard who has played the position before and had a year to sit and learn under Rick Barnes and company.

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