Julian Phillips has received an invitation and will attend the NBA Draft Combine, which is set to begin Monday at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. The Tennessee five-star freshman forward is one of 78 players expected to attend the Combine, the NBA announced on Tuesday.
Phillips was the only Tennessee player on the list. Senior wing Josiah-Jordan James and senior forward Olivier Nkamhoua on Friday received an invitation to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp. Senior center Uros Plavsic was also on the NBA’s early entry list but didn’t receive an invitation to either event.
Tennessee’s 2023-24 roster currently stands at 13 scholarship players, with three additions from the NCAA Transfer Portal in USC Upstate guard Jordan Gainey, who signed on Tuesday, along with Harvard forward Chris Ledlum and Northern Colorado wing Dalton Knecht.
Julian Phillips’ Freshman Season: 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game
After Tennessee’s loss to Florida Atlantic in the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden in New York in March, Phillips said he was still undecided on what was next in his basketball career.
“I am still processing the end of the season, this game especially,” Phillips said. “Just being here with my team and being here with my brothers, this is really tough. Everything in the future, we can sit down and figure that out later when we get away from here.”
Phillips averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game during his freshman season, starting 25 times in 32 games, missing four games due to a hip injury in February. He shot 41.1 percent from the field but just 23.9 percent from the 3-point line. He led Tennessee in free throws made (97) and attempted (150) and was fourth in rebounding (150).
He flashed brilliance at times, like scoring 25 points against USC in November in the Bahamas or the 18 points and 11 rebounds he had at Mississippi State in January, but more often he failed to get going.
“I definitely wish I could have played better,” Phillips said. “I know the type of player I am. I know the work I put in. I have to get back in the gym, get my game right.”
The Athletic, ESPN split on Julian Phillips’ draft ranking
Phillips was scoreless in 12 minutes against Florida Atlantic in the Sweet Sixteen, taking just two shots and grabbing just one rebound. He had only four points and four rebounds in 45 minutes over three NCAA Tournament games.
He scored in double-figures 13 times, but only three times over his final 13 games.
The Athletic in March had Phillips at No. 18 on their ranking of the top 100 prospects available in the upcoming draft. ESPN, on the other hand, had Phillips at No. 55 overall, ranked No. 13 among small forwards.
“I learned a lot this year,” Phillips said. “I learned a lot about myself. Just being here was a blessing for me. I am thankful for everything coach (Rick) Barnes taught me this year.”
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