KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee basketball team will have two new guards this season, and coach Rick Barnes expects them to bring scoring to the backcourt.
Barnes wanted to address the lack of a scoring threat from the guard position last season.
“I can only go back to a year ago with our last game,” Barnes said. “We had the ball against Georgia, our guards had chances to make plays and didn’t. One thing we wanted to do in the offseason and we felt we maybe had to do that with older guys.
“With Chris Darrington and James Daniel we felt we could get guys who like to score and [are] not afraid to go make plays.”
Daniel and Darrington certainly fill the scoring need for the Vols, at least on paper.
Daniel, a graduate transfer from Howard, led the NCAA in scoring as a junior in the 2015-16 season with 27.1 points per game. An ankle injury limited Daniel to 2 games last season and the effects of it have lingered in his time with the Vols.
“He’s mature and I think like anybody he has wanted to come back quicker,” Barnes said. “We’re the ones that held him back. We’re the ones that said to him, ‘we are going to take this slower.’
“Once we got to know him, we know he is going to grasp things pretty quickly, or we feel that way. We just want to get him totally healthy first.”
Darrington comes to Tennessee as a highly touted junior college transfer. He ranked as the No. 14 best JUCO player in the country last season, according to 247Sports.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard averaged 20.7 points per game last season. He has begun adjusting to the bump in competition.
“It’s definitely a different level,” Darrington said. “These guys are all good. Not to say I haven’t played with good guys in the past. This is a different level. Everyone can guard, everyone can shoot and everyone can play defense.
“You really got to pay attention to details and watch film to see where your looks are going to come at. Try to just think the game rather than play the game. Everyone is good out here.”