Tennessee guard named to Julius Erving Award Watch List

Tennessee guard named to Julius Erving Award Watch List

Tennessee senior guard Josiah Jordan James was named to the Julius Erving Award Watch List, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday. The Julius Erving Award is given annually to the top small forward in college basketball.

James was one of four SEC players included on the initial watch list. He was joined by Alabama’s Brandon MillerArkansas’ Jordan Walsh and Kentucky’s Chris Livingston.

In late January, the watch list of 20 players for the 2023 Jerry West Award will be narrowed to 10 and then in late February to just five. In March, a winner will be selected.

The South Carolina native is the Vols’ second leading returning scorer after averaging 10.3 points per game during the 2021-22 season. The 2022 SEC All-Tournament team selection and preseason second-team All-SEC member also led the Vols in rebounding last season with 6.0 boards per game. James also recorded 46 steals and a team-high 34 blocks.

Tennessee is scheduled to open the season in less than two weeks on Monday, Nov. 7 against Tennessee Tech in Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols will travel to Friscoe, Texas on Friday to face No. 2 Gonzaga. Fans can stream the game live online at PPV.COM or can order the Legends of Basketball Classic on TV through their cable providers. The suggested retail price will be $9.99 on all PPV platforms.

Tennessee basketball will start the new season as the consensus No. 11 team in the country.

After the Vols were ranked 11th in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 last week, they came in at No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches Poll on Tuesday.

The Vols started last season ranked No. 18 in the AP Preseason Top 25. Tennessee stayed in the rankings all 19 weeks last season, dropping as low as No. 24, on January 17, and climbing as high as No. 5 on March 14 .

The season ended with a 26-8 record, including the program’s first SEC Tournament championship since 1979, before falling to No. 11-seed Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

KenPom.com dropped his 2023 college basketball ratings earlier this month, with Tennessee debuting at No. 4, behind No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Texas and No. 3 Gonzaga.

No. 13 Auburn was the next highest-ranked SEC team in the KenPom ratings, followed by No. 14 Arkansas, No. 18 Alabama, No. 35 Florida, No. 40 LSU, No. 41 Missouri, No. 45 Texas A&M, No. 49 Ole Miss, No. 53 Mississippi State, No. 66 Vanderbilt, No. 78 South Carolina and No. 93 Georgia.

The SEC slate includes home games against Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Missouri, road games at Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M and home-and-home dates with Kentucky, Auburn, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Mississippi State.

In non-conference play, will host Tennessee Tech, Florida Gulf Coast, McNeese State, Alcorn State, Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay, along with the Big 12-SEC Challenge game against Texas. The Vols will play neutral-site games against Colorado (Nashville) and Maryland (Brooklyn, NY) and will play three games in three days in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas Thanksgiving week, starting with Butler.

Tennessee added five players in its 2023 signing class, headlined by five-star wing Julian Phillips. The Vols also added four-star Knoxville point guard BJ Edwardsfour-star wing DJ Jeffersonthree-star power forward Tobe Awaka and Indiana State graduate-transfer shooting guard Tyreke Key.

Six players from last season’s roster left the program. Freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler left for the NBA while five others transferred: senior guard Victor Bailey (George Mason); freshman wing Quentin Diboundje (East Carolina); freshman power forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (Louisville); freshman center Handje Tamba (Weber State); sophomore shooting guard Justin Powell (Washington State).

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