Vols hoops ranked 23rd in Blue Ribbon preseason poll

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT.) -- While UT men's basketball may not have gotten much love in the preseason AP poll, the Vols are No. 23 in the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

Auburn (18th), Florida (5th) and Kentucky (2nd) are the only SEC teams ranked ahead of the Vols. Tennessee is listed two spots behind Memphis.

Recruiting was one of the main praises heaped on the program and head coach Rick Barnes in the season preview by Blue Ribbon editor Chris Dortch.

"Tennessee's most recent appearance in the NCAA tournament drew more attention to the program. Better players want to be coached by Barnes, and he and his staff are poised to put together one of the finest recruiting hauls in the program's history. Tennessee fans will remember this season as the one that kept the momentum going," according to Dortch.

The yearbook feature on the Vols echoed what Barnes has been saying all offseason about guards Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden's leadership.

"This is now Turner's team, regardless of what role he fills. Turner is capable of running the point full time if freshman Josiah James doesn't lock down the job, and he's comfortable playing off the ball, too. Not that it matters in Barnes' system. Any of Tennessee's starting guards can initiate offense," said Dortch.

The yearbook projects five-star guard Josiah-Jordan James will sneak into the starting lineup.

"James has a solid mid-range jumper, is a threat to get to the rim and a great finisher in transition. His mission during the summer and fall was to develop a more consistent 3-point shot," said Dortch.

Tennessee opens the regular season at Thompson-Boling Arena November 5th vs. UNC-Asheville.

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