When Indiana State Sycamores transfer guard Tyreke Key committed to playing Tennessee State basketball, the Vols didn’t secure commitments from two very prestigious wingers, nor did they guarantee the return of Josiah Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi. But that doesn’t end the expectations for Key this year.
Isaac Trotter of 247Sports expects Key to be a spinner even with Vescovi, James and Zakai Zeigler. Given the return of Olivier Nkamhua, it is very clear that the three players will be in the backcourt, along with five-star Julian Phillips.
However, Trotter does give Key a chance to become a key player, and if he isn’t, Key is expected to deliver a big punch on the Tennessee basketball bench. This is what was written about the combo keeper in the story.
It wouldn’t be easy for any program to afford to lose a star like Kennedy Chandler, but Tennessee State is determined to find success after landing Indiana State’s top scorer Tyrick Key. Wake Forest took the gold in Jake Larrivia, Indiana’s move, and Key could be another former Jimmy to break into a Power 6 hit. Key could definitely earn a place in Team Tennessee’s starting lineup alongside Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler. Or he could come off the bench and pack a scoring punch. It doesn’t matter. The key is a player upstairs who will have an effect when on the ground.
Despite how loaded the folders are, there’s clearly room for Key. After all, these are the only four players we named who are obvious league players, and with three players in the backcourt, there is room for six in a two-deep scheme.
Mains averaged over 17 points last year, and at 6’3″ 205 pounds, he can fill multiple roles. Given Vescovi’s previous experience playing base, Key could come and play both while Vescovi would pass on to the player if Ziggler needed a rest.
On the other hand, if BJ Edwards, a four-star commitment, emerges as a solid reserve guard, Key could be the No. 2 reserve guard and another primary scoring option. He’s an elite shooter, having crossed 80 percent of the spoiled streak in the past two years and more than 40 percent of three in the second year.
The big deal is clearly for Key to be in good health, as he’s missed it all last year due to shoulder surgery, which limited his scoring proficiency in 2020-2021, the last year he played. As a result, there are some questions about what he will bring to the table.
With that said, Rick Barnes wasn’t targeting him without reason, which is a big reason to load Tennessee basketball into the backcourt this year. Getting started will be tough because three guys will be in the fight at the two and the three, but being a rotating player is a fair expectation.