The block parties will continue in Knoxville.
Yves Pons, the first player in Tennessee men's basketball history to be voted the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the year, decided Monday afternoon to return for his senior season with the Volunteers. Monday night marked the deadline for players who filed for early entry to either remain eligible for the NBA draft or withdraw.
ESPN analyst Sean Farnham, citing the NCAA-certified representation used by Pons, was the first to report the decision.
"He will be the best defender in the country on a team that should be top-10 all season," Farnham posted on Twitter.
Early Monday evening, Pons posted "I'm back" on Twitter, adding "GBO," referring to the Vols' Go Big Orange slogan.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder from Fuveau, France, started all 31 games for last season's Vols (17-14) and had at least one blocked shot in every one of them. His 73 blocks led the SEC and tied Tennessee's single-season record set by C.J. Black, the former Brainerd High School standout, during the 1997-98 season.
Pons was on the verge of breaking Black's mark on March 12 at the SEC tournament in Nashville, but that five-day extravaganza was canceled an hour before the second day of competition was scheduled to begin with the eighth-seeded Vols taking on ninth-seeded Alabama.
In addition to his blocks, Pons also showcased his defensive skills last season by making 13 steals and drawing seven charging fouls. He averaged 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Pons was among the 205 players who filed for early entry, with 163 of the candidates from the college ranks and 42 from the international realm. The 163 college candidates was down from the 175 last year and the 181 in 2018.