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Tennessee’s basketball future waits on SG Chaz Lanier

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Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes apparently isn’t afraid of putting himself in a winner-take-all position – despite his lack success in those kinds of scenarios, namely the NCAA Tournament.

Barnes and the Vols are trying their best to patiently wait out basketball prospect Chaz Lanier, who many think is the best remaining player in the transfer portal and could have an impact like former Vol Dalton Knecht had last season after he transferred to Tennessee and helped the Vols to the Elite Eight. Many thought Lanier, who could still end up entering the NBA Draft and has offered no hint as to when he will announce his decision, would definitely end up a Vol, eventually. Then, things changed.

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Kentucky’s future seemed set for at least the foreseeable future with John Calipari at the helm. Then, he jumped ship for Arkansas and Kentucky made an immensely popular hire in the Commonwealth with former Wildcat Mark Pope securing the job. Sure, the move has more nostalgia than a Christmas carol, but it certainly signals a change in Lexington. That wasn’t good for Tennessee.

Think of this from Lanier’s perspective. If the North Florida transfer didn’t like Calipari’s slick ways over Barnes, wouldn’t that seem like Pope would be a better option at Kentucky for Lanier than Calipari? After all, Pope is essentially the anti-Calipari and much more like Barnes than Calipari.

Barnes has said he doesn’t feel as if he has to enter the season with a full complement of 12 scholarships. That sounds odd, but Barnes seems comfortable with it. However, that won’t be an issue if Lanier, who is from Ensworth High School in Nashville, ends up signing with the Vols. Then, Tennessee will finish out their class with complements to Lanier if he ends up in orange. Otherwise, this looks like a cobbled together basketball team, just one season after one of the most successful and memorable campaigns in Tennessee basketball history.

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The Vols’ immediate basketball future rests in the hands of a 6-foot-4, 199-pound shooting guard who shot 44-percent from three-point and is having some serious second thoughts about his pending college decision.

Tennessee’s fans may not be okay with that, but Barnes seems just fine with how things are playing out.

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