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  • VAUGHT: Tennessee felt like home for Kennedy Chandler

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    Several months ago Kylan Chandler told me his son, point guard Kennedy Chandler, would not let his recruiting drag out.

    He didn’t either as the five-star Memphis guard verbally committed to Tennessee Friday.

    “I want to go where the school felt like it was home," Chandler told ESPN. "I was looking for a program that could help me develop and have a strong family atmosphere, and a coach I could relate to. Tennessee and Rick Barnes made me feel that way."

    The 6-1, 165-pound Chandler *is the top ranked point guard in the 2021 recruiting class. He’s the No. 11 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite for the 2021 class and picked Tennessee over Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and hometown Memphis.

    He cited the “toughness and work ethic” at Tennessee as reasons for his decision.


    “Coach Rick Barnes, they have been recruiting me ever since they know who I was — ever since Day 1,” Chandler said to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Instagram Live. “(Assistant) Coach Kim English and them, they recruited me hard. On my official visit, it felt like home. It was my first official visit and I really liked it.”

    Chandler said he was impressed by stories Barnes told him about coaching point guard D.J. Augustin and T.J. Ford at Texas.

    Chandler’s commitment also continues a strong trend for Barnes at Tennessee of upgrading talent. Josiah-Jordan James was the No. 22 rated recruit in 2019 and Jaden Springer was No. 16 in 2020. Both were guards like Chandler.
    Chandler played his first three years of high school basketball at Briarcrest Christian in Memphis before transferring to Wichita (Kansas) Sunrise Christian Academy to play this season.

    “It will just be more of a college prep year. He’ll get used to housing and travel, play a national schedule and have opportunities for even more development,” his father told me when Kennedy Chandler made the move.

    Chandler’s explosive speed could be his biggest attribute. His father says he’s got faster as he got older in part because the footwork drills he’s done along with the way he’s worked with strength coaching and training on his lateral movement.

    “When he was younger his athleticism was not like it is now. He’s getting better and is able to go to the hole, take you off the dribble and dunk on you,” Chandler’s father said. “It’s kind of crazy how all of a sudden he hit a spurt and his athleticism took off. It has been a great last year and a half.”