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Rutgers guard Corey Sanders (3)reaches in to make a steal as Howard guard James Daniel (11) dribbles the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Piscataway, N.J. Rutgers won 82-70. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Editor's note: This is the second story in a series about the newcomers on Tennessee's men's basketball team. Read the first part here.

KNOXVILLE — James Daniel III is from Hampton, Va., and a metropolitan area of nearly two million people, so he finds Knoxville quaint.

"It's just a nice college town," he said of his new home in Tennessee.

But the 6-foot shooting guard knows that, although the city feels small, he is stepping onto his career's most visible platform yet.

If he needed a reminder, Daniel was surrounded by more than a dozen reporters this past week as he discussed his transition to Tennessee from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

"This is the biggest level of basketball, the SEC, that there is," Daniel told those gathered. "So I feel as though that's why I chose Tennessee. This is a school where I can show my talents on the biggest stage."

An ankle injury kept him from completing his final year of NCAA eligibility at Howard after he led the nation in scoring in 2015-16. But missing last season allowed Daniel to finish his degree and begin exploring graduate transfer options to complete his college basketball career.

Tennessee fit the bill, providing a place where he will have the chance to become an immediate contributor for a nationally relevant program with a tight-knit atmosphere.

"After considering Ohio State, Michigan and DePaul, when I came to Tennessee it was a family with the coaching staff, Coach (Rick) Barnes, the team," Daniel said. "It was just that family environment. That's what I was looking for, because you want to go to a place where you're loved. This is where I felt that love."

Daniel is just a spectator for this summer's three-week Rocky Top League as he continues rehabbing his ankle with a targeted return time of early August. If he hits that objective, he would be in uniform when the Volunteers play three games on a trip to Europe just before the fall semester begins.

"But I'm not rushing anything," he said.

Daniel still is able to exercise what he sees as his greatest strength even though he is not a full participant in the Vols' summer practices. He said he likes to bring a team together off the court and in the locker room.

"Just getting the most out of people," Daniel said.

He also likes what he sees on Tennessee's roster.

"I have very high expectations for our group," Daniel said. "I feel as though we have a young team, but these guys had a lot of experience last year. Add in me, Chris (Darrington) and a couple of freshmen, and I feel as though we have a chance to not only just win the conference but a national title, I feel like."

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.

 

James Daniel

6-foot | Guard

Hometown: Hampton, Va. (Phoebus High School, Howard University)

Tennessee’s 2017-18 newcomers:

Yvez Pons, freshman guard/forward (enrolling in August)

Derrick Walker, freshman forward (enrolled at beginning of June)

Zach Kent, freshman center (enrolled beginning of June)

Jalen Johnson, guard (redshirted last year)

Chris Darrington, guard (enrolled beginning of June; junior college transfer from Vincennes University)

James Daniel III, guard (enrolled beginning of June; graduate transfer from Howard University)

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