Kennedy Chandler described his college commitment succinctly Friday in a video posted to SportsCenter’s Twitter.
The nation’s No. 1 point guard will always represent his city of Memphis, but he will play for his state of Tennessee. Chandler committed to the Vols on Friday.
“Coach Rick Barnes, they have been recruiting me ever since they know who I was — ever since Day 1,” Chandler said to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Instagram Live. “Coach Kim English and them, they recruited me hard. On my official visit, it felt like home. It was my first official visit and I really liked it.”
Chandler, a five-star prospect and the No. 11 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite, picked the Vols over Duke, Kentucky, Memphis and North Carolina. He stated he wanted to play for a program where the “culture is undeniable” and where “toughness and work ethic are a daily program requirement.”
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Chandler is the highest-ranked player to commit to the Vols in Barnes’ tenure and the third-highest in program history, according to 247Sports’ all-time rankings.
“Rick Barnes is a great coach,” Chandler said. “He is going to be a Hall of Fame coach one day. He tells the stories about the point guards he coached at Texas like D.J. Augustin and T.J. Ford and them. He said I could be the next T.J. Ford and I am looking forward to him coaching me.”
Chandler’s commitment makes three straight classes for Tennessee in which a five-star guard established a new level of recruiting under Barnes.
He tops Jaden Springer, who was the No. 16 recruit in 2020, after Springer topped Josiah-Jordan James, No. 22 in the nation in 2019, as the top-ranked Barnes commit. Keon Johnson, the No. 19 prospect in 2020, also committed to Tennessee.
The recruiting success has followed some of the best seasons in Tennessee basketball history. The Vols won a share of the SEC title in 2017-18 and were ranked No. 1 for four weeks during the 2018-19 season.
Chandler expects even more winning during his career at UT.
“I’ll be looking forward to winning and going to the Final Four and winning the national championship and bringing energy and excitement to Thompson-Boling Arena,” Chandler said.
Chandler is the first commitment in Tennessee’s 2021 class, but he named some elite prospects he hopes to bring with him to Knoxville.
“I am looking to bring Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith,” Chandler said.
Banchero and Smith are five-star forwards in the 2021 class. Banchero, from Seattle O’Dea, is the No. 3 prospect. Smith, who plays at Tyrone (Georgia) Sandy Creek, is the No. 4 recruit.
Chandler took an official visit to Tennessee in October 2019, when Banchero also took an official visit.
Chandler played his first three years of high school basketball at Briarcrest Christian in Memphis before transferring to Wichita (Kansas) Sunrise Christian Academy for his senior season.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.