Kennedy Chandler, the most outstanding player of Tennessee's first Southeastern Conference tournament title since 1979, announced Tuesday that he would be forgoing his remaining eligibility with the Volunteers to enter the NBA draft.
Chandler's decision comes as no surprise, with a Sporting News mock draft Tuesday projecting him as the 17th overall pick. The 6-foot, 171-pounder from Memphis was pegged last month by NBC as the 16th selection.
"I am so humbled to be in a position where I am close to a lifelong dream," Chandler posted on Twitter.
Chandler is Tennessee's third one-and-done player in the last two seasons, joining Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer, who were first-round picks last June.
In 34 games this season for the 27-8 Volunteers - he missed the SEC opener at Alabama following a positive COVID-19 test - Chandler averaged 30.7 minutes, 13.9 points and 3.2 rebounds. He led the Vols in scoring, assists and steals, ranking fifth in the SEC in assists and second in steals.
"He had always played with the ball in his hand, and when he didn't have it he stood," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said late in the season. "Defensively, he's learning now how to really play. He's almost got a 6-7 wingspan, and he's learning how to use that. He's never had to deal with different ball screen coverages, and we have a package we go through. He's worked hard on that.
"He's learned so much in how to move without the ball."
Chandler's 161 assists dwarfed his 85 turnovers during a season that yielded All-SEC second-team honors, and he wound up snagging 74 steals. He thanked Barnes in his departure announcement for "coaching me with such high standards and holding me accountable to my teammates."
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