Phillips, last five-star of 22, picks Tennessee

Five-star senior Julian Phillips, the last available five-star basketball prospect in the 2022 class, announced his commitment to Tennessee on Thursday.

Phillips chose the Volunteers over Auburn, although the G League Ignite team emerged as an option late in the process. He originally committed to LSU in October, but was released from his letter of intent in March after coach Will Wade was fired following a notice of allegations from the NCAA accusing the program of five Level I violations.

A 6-foot-7 small forward from South Carolina who attended Link Year Prep (Missouri), Phillips is ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 100 for 2022 and is Tennessee’s sixth five-star recruit in the past four classes. He registers as the No. 6 small forward in the class.

Phillips averaged 19.6 points per game for Upward Stars on the Adidas Gauntlet Tour last summer, then helped lead Link Year Prep to the Geico Nationals Tournament Championship Game last month. He averaged 15.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in three Geico Nationals games, including 20 points and six rebounds in a quarterfinal victory over Oak Hill Academy (Virginia).

“Phillips is a long, skilled wing with the unique talent the NBA covets,” said ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi. “However, he will need to elevate his talent and working habits to maximize his huge upside. He plays effectively both inside and out. Phillips was loaded with potential at a young age. His versatility at both extremities and his measurable physical qualities make him a desirable recruit.”

Phillips immediately improves Tennessee’s frontcourt and will likely play a starring role immediately. Coach Rick Barnes and the Volunteers should bring Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi back on the perimeter and the versatile Josiah-Jordan James on the wing. Phillips and James should form a forward tandem capable of creating matchup problems for most opponents.

They also pick up Olivier Nkamhoua, who started 22 games before injuring his ankle late in the season, and starting center Uros Plavsic. Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key averaged 17.2 points per game two seasons ago before sitting out last season and will add even more punch to the backcourt.

Volunteers ranked 19th in ESPN’s latest Top 25 Way-Too-Early update.

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