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Tennessee signee says Rick Barnes has “best” player development in the country

Rick Barnes (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tennessee signee Josiah-Jordan James is a rare McDonald’s All-American who picked the Vols over other top programs in the country.

He says it was an easy decision for him.

“The player development there is definitely the best in the country. It’s unmatched. I have pictures of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield and they came in chubby, fat, unathletic,” James said. “I definitely want to be part of that.

“To me it wasn’t a basketball decision but the people are so genuine I wanted to be part of that. I finish high school May 3 and will be on campus May 8. I can’t wait. They tell me no matter how great of shape you think you are in, you are still going to get your ass kicked the first week or so there because that’s how coach (Rick) Barnes works you.”

James knows the last McDonald’s All-American to sign with Tennessee was Tobias Harris in 2008.

“I definitely have some big shoes to fill but I just want to go in and work and show what I am all about for the UT fans,” James said.

Barnes and the Vols have beat Kentucky twice in each of the last two seasons, something no other SEC team has done to coach John Calipari and his Cats.

“It is just a testament to how hard the team works and how hard he pushes them. If you look at it side by side, Kentucky should beat anybody because they have all these prestigious five-star players,” James said. “But it it is not really about that once you step on the court. Coach Barnes preaches that day in, day out. It’s a testament to his ability.

“I have talked with other SEC players about who is going to run the SEC. I have told them Tennessee is going to hold it down but they have other ideas. It’s going to be fun. I think there are a lot of great players coming in and there will be a lot of battles. We will push each other but it will be fun.”

1 comment

  1. He has a great attitude and being in great shape helps. Time will tell just how great a developer Rick Barnes is with his players. Most of that has to be in the player to start with. You can push, but unless that player is a gym rat like Cal likes, a coach can only do so much. Tennessee had a great chemistry among its players this year! It will be interesting to see how many times Rick can duplicate that chemistry. If he can do it every year, he will not be at Tennessee long. Tennessee is not a destination job like Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky.

    The hardest job a coach has is to create that chemistry! Rick has been able to do it with four year players, but Cal does it with one and two year players. Once Rick gets more one year players, his job becomes immensely more difficult to create that chemistry. Don’t be to quick to crown Rick king of the SEC just yet! Make the final four first and then we can have that conversation.

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