A pair of Tennessee prospects will enter the 2023 NBA draft while preserving their remaining NCAA eligibility, Vols head coach Rick Barnes told reporters on Thursday. As Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports relays (via Twitter), freshman forward Julian Phillips and senior wing Josiah-Jordan James both intend to test the draft waters.
Phillips, the No. 52 player on ESPN’s big board, had an underwhelming freshman season, averaging just 8.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG on .411/.239/.822 shooting in 32 games (24.1 MPG). However, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony suggests Phillips has good size and length for his position and has the frame of a prototypical small forward. He could boost his stock with strong workouts this spring, but may benefit from another year in college, Givony adds.
James, meanwhile, averaged 10.0 PPG and 4.7 RPG with a .372/.313/.861 shooting line in his fourth year at Tennessee. He ranks 61st on ESPN’s board, with Givony lauding his toughness and defensive versatility, but is far from a lock to be drafted if he opts to go pro.
Here are a few more updates on early entrants declaring for the draft:
- Tristan Vukcevic, a 20-year-old forward/center playing for Partizan Belgrade in Serbia, has declared for the draft, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). Vukcevic is a talented three-point shooter who is a candidate to be drafted in the second round, currently ranking 53rd overall on ESPN’s top 100.
- Nadir Hifi, a 20-year-old French-Algerian wing having a big year for Le Portel in LNB Pro A (France’s top league), is entering the draft, agent Olivier Mazet tells Givony (Twitter link). Hifi comes in at No. 78 on ESPN’s board.
- Creighton sophomore guard Trey Alexander will test the draft waters this spring, he announced on Twitter. Alexander boosted his numbers across the board in his second college season, averaging 13.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 2.6 APG with an impressive .410 3PT% in 37 games (32.1 MPG). He’s the No. 89 prospect on ESPN’s list.
- Auburn senior forward Jaylin Williams (Twitter link via Rothstein), Pitt redshirt junior guard Blake Hinson (press release), and UConn senior guard Tristen Newton (Instagram link) are among the other early entrants who have recently declared for the draft. All three will test the waters while maintaining their NCAA eligibility.