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VOL. 8 | NO. 52 | Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Look at This Year’s Volunteer Squad

By Dave Link | Special to The Tennessee Ledger

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Comments ()

Here’s a glimpse at the Vols’ roster, and what’s happened through the first eight games (in order of scoring).

Kevin Punter Jr.

Guard Kevin Punter #0 comes off a screen from 23 Derek Reese during the game against the Army West Point Black Knights.

(Hayley Pennesi/Tennessee Athletics/UTSports.Com)

Junior guard, 6-2, 190, Bronx, N.Y./State Fair (Mo.) Community College. 22.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 35.1 mpg

Punter was a junior college All-American at State Fair Community College when signed by Tyndall and started all but one game for the Vols last season, averaging 10.3 points as a shooting guard with Josh Richardson at the point. (Richardson was a second-round draft pick by Miami Heat).

Punter has been forced to play point this year due to Turner’s ineligibility, but he’s still pouring in points through eight games.

He’s second among SEC players in scoring behind Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody (23.6) and was second on the team in 3-pointers (17 of 44, 38.6 percent). He’s a tough, hard-nosed player – he learned to play in the Bronx playgrounds – and led the Rocky Top Summer League in scoring with 43.7 points per game.

He scored 27 against Butler.

Armani Moore

Forward Armani Moore #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Butler Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.

(Hayley Pennesi/Tennessee Athletics/UTSports.Com)

Senior forward, 6-4, 217, Kennesaw, Ga./Mt. Paran Christian School. 15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 31.5 mpg

Moore was recruited by former UT coach Cuonzo Martin as a point guard, but during his first two seasons under Martin was used as a wing. His stats were minimal (3.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 12.9 mpg as a sophomore) in two seasons under Martin.

He was used as an undersized power forward by Tyndall last season and averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds while starting all 32 games.

He’s listed as a forward, has guard skills, and is a ferocious rebounder and shot blocker (19 in eight games).

Plus, his 3-point shooting has improved from 23 percent his first three seasons to 50 percent (8 of 16) thought eight games. His 17 points against Butler was second behind Punter’s 27.

Robert Hubbs III

Junior guard, 6-4, 207, Newburn/Dyer County High School. 15.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 31.7 mpg (seven games)

Hubbs was a five-star recruit and No. 23 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals as a high school senior, but his only season under Martin was cut short due to shoulder surgery Jan. 14, 2014, an injury dating back to high school.

Hubbs’ game progressed under Tyndall last season when he averaged 7.2 points, started 20 games, and averaged 24.8 minutes. He’s got good size for a third guard/wing, and his game was flourishing before having his knee scoped Dec. 1.

He became the first Vol to score at least 13 points in seven straight games in a season since Jarnell Stokes in 2014, scored 68 percent of those points in the paint, and committed only three turnovers in 222 minutes.

Devon Baulkman

Junior guard/forward, 6-5, 200, Bainbridge, Ga./Gulf Coast State College. 10.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 30.5 mpg

Before going to junior college, Baulkman averaged 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while leading Bainbridge to the second round of the Class 4A state tournament in Georgia.

He averaged 15.5 points and 4.9 rebounds his second season at Gulf Coast State College before being signed by Tyndall.

Last season, Baulkman struggled with shoulder problems, averaged 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds, and shot 38.2 percent from 3-point range (26 of 68).

His defense wasn’t great, though, and that’s been an emphasis with Barnes and staff. He started all of the Vols’ first eight games. Although he scored 13 against Butler, Baulkman went 1 of 6 from 3-point range, and his season averaged dropped to 33.7 percent (19 of 55).

Admiral Schofield

Freshman forward, 6-5, 240, Zion, Illinois/Zion-Benton Township High School. 5.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 12.8 mpg.

Schofield was a McDonald’s All-American nominee as a high school senior when he averaged 23 points and 18 rebounds. With Hubbs out for the Butler game, Schofield got his first start as a Vol and responded with a 16-point, seven-rebound performance in 35 minutes.

Did Barnes and his staff find another scorer in the loss to Butler? Perhaps. He hit 6 of 6 shots, was 1 of 2 from 3-point range, and made all three of his foul shots. When Hubbs does come back, Schofield could provide some much-needed help off the bench.

Derek Reese

Senior forward, 6-7, 230, Orlando, Fla./Olympia High School. 3.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 22.8 mpg.

Along with Hubbs and Moore, Reese is playing for his third coach at UT, and he’s alternated between the backcourt and frontcourt during his career. He played power forward as a freshman under Martin in 2012-13 and averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds.

He moved to the perimeter/wing in 2013-14 and averaged 2.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in Martin’s last season.

And under Tyndall, Reese returned to the frontcourt at power forward and averaged 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Now, Reese is an undersized low post and has started all eight games. He’s the best option Barnes has at the position right now.

Detrick Mostella

Sophomore guard, 6-1, 175, Decatur, Ala./Notre Dame Prep (Mass.). 3.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 14.6 mpg.

A four-star recruit as a senior at La Lumiere (Ind.) High School, Mostella spent the 2013-14 year at Notre Dame Prep School and was signed by Tyndall.

He’s a big-time athlete who never found his rhythm last season when he averaged 3.4 points and 11.4 minutes. Barnes wants Mostella to get stronger and improve defensively, and he is confident it will be done. He’s not there yet, though, as evidenced by his stat line at Butler: zero points and zero rebounds in 3 minutes. In his only start this season, Mostella had seven points and three assists in the Nov. 10 win over Marshall.

Shembari Phillips

Freshman guard, 6-2, 190, Atlanta/Wheeler High School. 2.7 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 10.1 mpg

Phillips played for Tucker High School as a junior and transferred as a senior to Wheeler, which went 30-2 and won Georgia’s Class 6A state championship last spring.

Phillips signed early under Tyndall in November of 2014, and stuck with UT when Tyndall was fired and Barnes was hired.

Phillips plays primarily the wing, but he has also played the point when Punter needs a break. Barnes and staff want to see Phillips’ minutes increase, which they did against Butler in his best game as a Vol.

Phillips scored eight against the Bulldogs in 18 minutes; he was 2 of 3 from the field, 2 of 3 from 3-point range, and made both of his foul shots, but Barnes was not pleased with missed defensive assignments. Still, the Vols could use those numbers off the bench every game.

Ray Kasongo

Sophomore forward, 6-8, 245, Toronto, Ontario/College of Southern Idaho. 1.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 4.9 mpg

Kasongo’s stats were modest in one year at College of Southern Idaho (5.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg), but he blocked 68 shots while averaging only 15.2 minutes per game. His contributions through the first eight games at UT have been slight, too.

Kasongo has a 7-foot-4 wingspan and a 42-inch vertical leap and could develop into a big presence inside, but he’s got a ways to go.

The most he’s played is 12 minutes against George Washington when he had two points and three rebounds. Kasongo was Barnes’ first signee as UT’s coach.

Kyle Alexander

Freshman forward, 6-9, 215, Milton, Ontario/Athlete Institute, Orangeville, Ontario. 0.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 7.4 mpg.

Like Kasongo, Alexander is a project with potential. His father, Joseph, played for Niagara and scored more than 1,200 points in his career from 1982-86.

His sister, Kayla, was a two-time All-Big East player for Syracuse from 2009-13 and a first-round WNBA Draft pick.

Kyle didn’t start playing basketball until his sophomore season of high school; he was previously a soccer player. His 7-foot-4 wingspan makes Alexander an imposing presence in the paint – but he needs some polish.

Dave Link is a freelance journalist living in Knoxville.

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