Admiral Schofield passes on NBA, playing another season for Vols

Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield goes up for an uncontested dunk during the first half of the team's second-round game against Loyola-Chicago at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Dallas, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

KNOXVILLE - The drill started with 11-year-old Admiral Schofield standing at midcourt.

His dad would roll a basketball out and Schofield would pick it up and shoot it, no matter how far from the basket he was.

photo Wright State center Parker Ernsthausen (22) defends as Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield (5) positions for a shot in the first half of the first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Dallas, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

So how has Schofield adjusted to the extra couple of feet that separate the college 3-point line from the NBA 3-point line?

"I'm comfortable shooting out there," he said last week.

A lifetime of dedication - including the last three years at Tennessee - brought him the opportunity to crisscross the nation working out for NBA franchises during the pre-draft process over the last several weeks.

"As a kid, you grow up dreaming about the NBA," Schofield said last week after working out for the Memphis Grizzlies. "So the biggest thing is, how do you get there? It's hard work."

The pre-draft trips gave him a chance to show off his game and tell the stories about those workouts with his father and about his more recent work of making 1,000 3-pointers per day last offseason in Knoxville.

Hard work has never scared Schofield. That's why he is coming back to Tennessee.

With today's deadline approaching for early entrants to remove themselves from consideration for this year's draft, Schofield announced Tuesday that he will delay his professional ambitions one more year to play his senior season for the Volunteers.

He will do so with the feedback from NBA coaches and executives on what he needs to do to be selected in next year's draft still fresh in his mind.

"I have learned so much through this NBA draft evaluation process and am looking forward to improving the areas of my game that need it while also improving as a man," Schofield wrote in an announcement on Twitter.

His decision to return fell in line with what Tennessee's coaches expected, but it still comes as a relief for a team already saddled with some of the loftiest preseason expectations in program history.

The Vols finished the 2017-18 season 26-9 with a second-round NCAA tournament loss that followed a run to the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game and an SEC regular-season co-championship.

With Schofield's return, the Vols are poised to lose just one regular contributor from that team. They have been picked as high as No. 3 in some preseason polls and are on track to play one of the nation's toughest nonconference schedules.

Schofield said after Tennessee's NCAA tournament loss to Loyola-Chicago that "it's not over."

Ultimately, Schofield's pre-draft experience could benefit the Vols. The 6-foot-5 wing received feedback from pro teams on how he can improve his game and better his draft stock for next year.

"It's all positive feedback and things that you can fix, like getting in great shape or becoming a better shooter, becoming a great shooter," Schofield said in Memphis.

Last year, Schofield used the offseason to refine his outside shooting and get in better shape as he transitioned from the post to playing on wing. The feedback Schofield received from NBA teams was that he would also be a small forward in the NBA. He also heard about improving his ability to shoot off the dribble.

And when it comes to range? Well, Schofield has been practicing that since he was 11 years old.

"So I can shoot deep," Schofield said. "It's just the consistency of being a great shooter at that range is the biggest key."

Fore still looking

Richmond graduate transfer guard Khwan Fore reportedly has reopened his recruitment after verbally committing to Tennessee on May 1. He has one year of eligibility remaining and was poised to take one of the Vols' two available scholarships for the upcoming season.

Sources at Tennessee and Richmond indicated less than two weeks ago that Fore likely was still planning to use his final year of eligibility at Tennessee, but SB Nation reported Saturday that he has decided to hold off on his commitment.

Lentz hired

Tennessee announced Tuesday the hiring of Bryan Lentz as video coordinator/director of player development. Lentz worked with Vols coach Rick Barnes at Texas from 2011 to 2014.

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