(Photo: 247Sports)

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Julian Phillips, the No. 18 overall prospect in the 2022 class, has committed to the Tennessee Volunteers, he tells 247Sports.

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The 6-foot-8, 200-pound small forward out of Branson (Mo.) Link Academy and the Upward Stars AAU program committed to Tennessee in a tight battle with Auburn, Florida State, Overtime Elite, G League Ignite, South Carolina and USC.

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“They recruited me the first time and I had a good relationship with coach [Rick] barnes and coach [Justin] Gainey and the rest of the staff previously,” he said of why he chose the Volunteers. “This second time around and him staying as consistent as he did with me, it showed me a lot in how bad he really wanted me. The plan he had for me coming in as a freshman, I think it’s something that I like a lot and something that I can do well in within his system. He coached a lot of great wings and had success with putting them in the NBA.”

Phillips was previously committed to LSU prior to the departure of Will Wade and after Wade was dismissed, Phillips opened his options back up and through some tough conversations, decided Knoxville was the best fit.

“It was pretty difficult, I had a lot of great options, a lot of great schools recruiting me, it’s a lot of great programs but I wanted to find the best fit for me,” he said. “It was tough. I talked a lot with coach Curt [Wheeler]my family and everybody to find out where the best place was this second time around and we all decided that Tennessee was the best place for me.”

Tennessee was involved during the first segment of his recruitment and got him on campus for a visit in the fall which left a lasting impression on the five-star.

“Just how they handle their business on the basketball side,” he said of what stood out on his official visit. “I got to see a lot of schools throughout my recruitment but in terms of having that schedule of working out and doing everything, they had it really tight but the way they had it was kind of different. I kind of like that a lot and their strength coach, I like him a lot as well. I just have a good relationship with everybody, the campus is beautiful, the facilities were beautiful and that made it all the best decision for me.”

Phillips has made major strides in his development over the last 18-months, particularly in his ability to make shots on the perimeter and his versatility will be valuable to Rick Barnes next season.

“A lot of versatility, I can play multiple positions, I can defend multiple positions, I will be able to space the floor a lot, I am a great shooter and am very comfortable shooting anywhere on the floor,” he said of what he will bring to the program. “Defensively, I bring energy and will be able to bring pressure on the ball, play a lot of positions, wherever coach needs me.”

Phillips is the second high school commitment in Tennessee’s 2022 recruiting class joining Top-100 prospect BJ Edwards.