Tennessee’s new basketball team is split in two. You are either a veteran with several seasons under your belt, or you have just arrived in the last few months as one of the many new faces of the Flights.
Second year care Justin powell, the transfer that went from Auburn to Tennessee after his first season with the Tigers, falls somewhere in between.
“If you think about it”, head coach Rick barnes said: “It’s about as true of a freshman as he only played 10 games (at Auburn), he didn’t have a full year at all last year.”
Powell suffered what turned out to be a season-ending concussion Jan. 2 against Texas A&M, sidelined the rest of the year after entering the concussion protocol.
During his limited time on the pitch at Auburn, Powell impressed averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. He scored a season-high 26 points in 33 minutes against Memphis in December, dropping 9 for 13 from the field. He went 7 for 10 from the 3-point line against South Alabama a week earlier.
He’s not exactly a freshman. But he’s not a seasoned veteran either.
To make up for lost time, Powell was the first in a class of eight dedications from Tennessee to arrive on campus, travel to Knoxville in May, and get straight to work.
“Because he wanted to get in shape,” Barnes said. “He wanted to go through what he went through last year in the concussion and everything he was behind. But he came here and you know he is a fast student, he is careful and wants to move.
The Flights, after failing to consistently hit perimeter shots in a frustrating 2020-21 season, took to the NCAA transfer portal to grab Powell and help resolve the issue.
A former three-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting cycle, ranked No.185 nationally by the 247Sports Composite, Powell shot 42.0% from the field and 44.3% from the 3-point line in his 10 games at Auburn.
“He’s another player who fits in perfectly,” said Barnes. “I mean everything we are, he’s about – hard worker, very selfless, he wants to be a part of it, and I’m excited about him because he put in the time and does the things he has to. to do.”
Powell, according to Barnes, is doing “so many good things on the offensive side.” But, like any young player, there is work to be done defensively.
“I look where Santiago vescovi is now, “added Barnes,” especially defensively, from where he was, it’s night and day, coming to where he was in freshman. Justin is a guy who knows that’s how he’s going to do it, knowing he has to do his job early, tenaciously, and once he gets that off his plate, you’ll be fine.
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In addition to his shooting ability, Powell is a capable passer and knows how to move without a ball. He can use a screen and, since moving to Tennessee, has become even more consistent with that plan.
With Vescovi and the five-star first-year point guard Kennedy Chandler both playing international basketball for their home countries over the summer, Powell also had his fair share of reps at point guard, with Victor Bailey Jr.
“I think it helped these two guys,” Barnes said, “and I think he’s shown it, but he’s also learning a new system, he really is.”