Chris Darrington departing from basketball Vols

Tennessee guard Chris Darrington (32) knocks over Lipscomb guard Garrison Mathews (24) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Calvin Mattheis)

KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee men's basketball program now has at least two open scholarships it could hand out before next season begins.

Tennessee announced Friday that rising senior guard Chris Darrington is transferring after appearing in 25 games in 2017-18, his only season with the program.

Darrington led the Volunteers in scoring during three exhibition games in Europe last summer and began the regular season playing a role off the bench. But his minutes waned with the arrival of conference play.

His departure along with that of senior guard James Daniel III heightens the emphasis on Tennessee's active search for a point guard in the 2018 recruiting class.

Coach Rick Barnes said after the season that his preference would be to sign a point guard out of high school who could make an immediate impact.

"That's what we feel that we need to continue the development of our guys in the program," Barnes said.

The Vols have pursued at least two players who could fit that mold in Memphis-area point guard Tyler Harris and former Connecticut signee James Akinjo, who is regarded as a four-star prospect out of California.

Rivals.com college basketball recruiting analyst Corey Evans wrote Tuesday that Arizona "looks to be the team to beat" for Akinjo.

The signing window for high school players is April 11 through May 16. Transfers and graduate transfers can be added after that time, and Barnes did not rule out interest in signing one of those.

Darrington signed with Tennessee as a junior college transfer last offseason, and Daniel signed as a graduate transfer. Daniel played a key role off the bench as the Vols shared the regular-season Southeastern Conference title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Tennessee has been projected as high as No. 4 in some early polls for the 2018-19 season.

In this season's transfer market, the Vols reportedly have expressed interest in guard Koby McEwen from Utah State and David Caraher from Houston Baptist, though both will be required to sit out a year at their new schools.

Tennessee could end up with a third open scholarship if Admiral Schofield opts to keep himself eligible for the NBA draft. The Vols' versatile wing has until May 30 to receive feedback from professional teams and remove his name from the draft.

Darrington could not immediately be reached for comment on his decision to transfer.

"We appreciate all of Chris' contributions both on and off the court this past year," Barnes said in a release from the university. "We all wish him nothing but the best moving forward."

Contact David Cobb at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.