Tyreke Key joining Barnes, Vols after decorated Indiana State career

Larry Bird is the most recognized Indiana State basketball player of all time, but it was Tyreke Key who had Tennessee fans excited Saturday night.

Key, who started 97 of his 114 career games for the Sycamores and averaged 14.5 points in the process, announced via social media that he would be playing his fifth and final college season with Rick Barnes and the Volunteers. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound guard is returning to Tennessee, having played at Clay County High School in Celina near the Kentucky state line.

"Home Sweet Home," Key posted on Twitter, adding emojis of an orange heart and an orange.

Key signed with the Sycamores in 2017 and was productive from the start, making the Missouri Valley Conference all-freshman team for the 2017-18 season and earning All-MVC second-team honors as a sophomore. He was an All-MVC first-team selection for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2020-21.

After deciding to use his extra year due to the coronavirus outbreak in Terre Haute, Key eventually underwent shoulder surgery and did not play this past season. His 1,650 career points with the Sycamores ranks sixth in program history, and he wound up picking the Vols over Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Texas Tech.

Key joins point guard BJ Edwards, a four-star signee out of Knoxville Catholic, as the newcomers to Tennessee's 2022-23 roster, but more will be on the way. Since the Vols ended their 27-8 season with an NCAA tournament second-round loss to Michigan, fifth-year senior guard Victor Bailey elected to play his "super senior" season at George Mason, and four freshmen also have departed: point guard Kennedy Chandler (declared for NBA draft), guard Quentin Diboundje (East Carolina), forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (currently in transfer portal) and center Handje Tamba (currently in portal).

Santiago Vescovi, a junior guard this past season, is going through the NBA draft process while maintaining the ability to return to the Vols.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.