KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT.) -- University of Tennessee head basketball coach Rick Barnes shot down any notion of "starting all over" with this year's team.
Barnes met with the media ahead of the first open practice of the 2019-2020 season. The fifth-year head coach lost some key members from last year's NCAA Tournament squad.
"I don't know that we're starting all over because we've got enough guys back who have shown really terrific leadership and I think they've helped these guys from the time they walked on campus in June. I think some of them have been able to move quicker than you think because of the leadership we got from the guys coming back."
Barnes will likely rely on five-star freshman guard Josiah-Jordan James to fill some of those holes lost to the NBA Draft. The South Carolina native was listed as the No. 22 prospect nationwide in the 2019 class.
"Josiah is terrific. He's worked as hard as anybody we've had as a freshman coming in. He wants to win. He's one of those guys that winning is what matters to him."
Barnes added James has been dealing with an injury this summer but doesn't expect him to miss a large portion of the season.
"He's had an injury he's had to work through a little bit but he's such a tough kid he doesn't want to talk about it and tell anybody about it but we've kept him in and out of practice the last couple weeks because we know we've got to have him fresh and ready by the time the season rolls around."
Barnes was asked about the recently-signed legislation in California that would allow college athletes to be paid for their image and likeness, known as the 'Fair Pay to Play Act'.
"My deal is if you're going to pay revenue sports [athletes], the other athletes should be paid or nobody should get paid." - #Vols @Vol_Hoops head coach Rick Barnes on the 'Fair Pay to Play Act' pic.twitter.com/thmb0IDqGL— Zack Rickens (@ZackRickensTV) October 3, 2019
Vol fans will get a chance to see Coach Barnes and new Lady Vols head coach Kellie Harper Friday evening at the third-annual Rocky Top Tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event begins at 6:00.