Tennessee coach Rick Barnes aimed about as high as he had in his tenure with the Vols when he began recruiting 5-star combo guard Anfernee Simons.
The allure of going to college just wasn’t enough to pass up millions of guaranteed dollars, though. It appears Simons is headed to the 2018 NBA Draft, reported by Adrian Wojnarowski.
Guard Anfernee Simons of IMG Academy is entering the NBA Draft, his agents Drew Rosenhaus and Bobby Petriella tell ESPN. Simons is No. 19 in ESPN's most recent mock draft.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 22, 2018
The 6-foot-4, 170-guard will not be able to change his mind and come to college after signing with an agent. Simons would have to be selected in the first round — 30 selections — to receive a guaranteed contract.
Simons is able to forgo college because he is playing for IMG Academy as prep year after graduation from high school in 2017.
It was worth the gamble for Barnes to go all in on Simons even with this always being a possibility. The Vols only have one roster spot this season and need to replace backup guard James Daniel.
Simons would have brought a scoring pop to the backcourt and perhaps added a bit more consistency to the group.
Tennessee had been trending in the right direction for a while. Memphis hiring Penny Hardaway would have likely brought Simons to the other side of the state, though. Hardaway’s son, Jayden, is teammates with Simons at IMG.
The Vols turn their attention elsewhere now.
James Akinjo is a 4-star point guard who picked up a Tennessee offer after being released from his National Letter of Intent by UConn after the firing of Kevin Ollie.
Class of 2019 guard Jalen Lecque received a visit from Tennessee on Wednesday.
— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) March 22, 2018
He would have to reclassify to 2018 to join the team next season, though.
Tennessee has offered guard Tyler Harris from the Memphis area. The Tigers offered him on Wednesday night and he might be heading there.