Julian Phillips, the No. 18 overall prospect in the Top247, just announced his commitment to Tennessee live on CBSHQ.
Phillips was previously committed to LSU under former head coach Will Wade and opted to re-open his recruitment following the coaching change.
His most recent commitment to Tennessee came against other finalists including Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina, and USC as well as both the NBA G League and Overtime Elite.
Here’s a breakdown of what Phillips brings to Tennessee and how he fits both within their current roster and in the system of head coach Rick Barnes.
The Scouting Report
Phillips is a multi-talented big wing with a wealth of natural tools. He has terrific positional size at 6-foot-8, he is a plus athlete, and exceptionally fluid. He has a lot of shooting potential, with a naturally soft ball, and has made noticeable strides as a shooter within the last year. He finishes above the rim with ease, especially when he’s able to get out in the open floor, and should be able to develop into a straight-line slashing threat as he continues to build-up his body and the consequent ability to absorb contact. Defensively, his combination of size, length, and fluidity gives him versatile tools to continue to develop at the next level as well.
On the sliding scale from potential to production, Phillips can still lean more towards the former than the latter. He is far from a finished product physically and similarly has too many games where his overall impact doesn’t match the caliber of his natural ability. following, it is very possible that he is still a couple of years away from putting all the pieces together. Nevertheless, his talent-level should dictate immediate attention from NBA scouts and executives and some one-and-done potential.
While it remains to be seen if Phillips is ready for immediate stardom in college basketball, what is clear is that he is walking into an immediate opportunity at Tennessee.
While Kennedy Chandler has declared for the NBA Draft, the Volunteers are otherwise returning the rest of their core from last year’s team including Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi in the backcourt, Josiah Jordan James on the wing and Olivier Nkamhoua along the frontline, who is set to return after suffering a season ending injury in early February.
Phillips provides a player capable of fitting into that returning core and having a chance to contend for a starting spot from day one. His versatility also allows Barnes maximum flexibility in terms of how he builds his line-ups.
We could see a return to smaller line-ups with James and Phillips playing together at the wing positions in a four-out type of system. Such a line-up would allow Tennessee to extend their defense more so than we saw last season and try to maximize their athleticism. While that would undoubtedly fit Phillips, it would also require him to be able to rebound the ball at a relatively high-level.
Conversely, we could also see any three of those four perimeter players together alongside Nkamhoua and a true big man like Uros Plavsic or Jonas Aidoo in a more conventional line-up that would allow them to match-up with programs with extreme size and physicality along the frontline.
Ultimately, what Phillips provides is not just one of the best long-term prospects in the national class but an ultra-versatile building block who will be able to fit into a variety of different types of line-ups next year while taking the next steps forward in his development.