In recent memory, there has not been an incoming freshman arriving at Tennessee with the lofty expectations of those which have been placed upon Kennedy Chandler. Many believe chandler could go one-and-done and end up as an NBA Lottery Pick with the ceiling of Ja Morant. Chandler was unequivocally the most decorated point guard in the 2021 recruiting class, and he was quite possibly the biggest recruiting win for Tennessee all-time. So what is it that makes him special? In a press release from the university, Tennessee Basketball associate head coach Michael Schwartz recently provided a position-by-by position breakdown, and we take a look at what he had to say about Chandler here.
"Kennedy Chandler is a really dynamic speed guard who makes everyone on the court better because of his ability to get where he wants to go with the ball," Schwartz said. "He's very unselfish. He thinks pass, which is great, and he can really score the ball. But he still plays with that old-school point guard mentality. He likes to put pressure on the defense and create easy opportunities for others. Obviously, that's something coach Barnes loves. Kennedy is very fast in transition and is going to allow us to do things we haven't done as much since Jordan Bone was here—play off more ball screens, play in more space and play with more dribble because he's that good with it.
If you ever watched Chandler play basketball in person, then you will understand what Schwartz is talking about with his next comments, but if you haven't, you will likely see it on full display soon.
"The word we keep using with him is 'snake," Schwartz added. "He has the ability to snake through traffic and change direction, change speed, put the defense on his back. He just has great feel with the ball in his hands-on how to keep pressure on the defense—even in tight quarters, and that's a unique ability. He's also a dynamic passer with both hands."
While Chandler has all of the tools to run Tennessee's offense at a high level, his ability as a defender was what set him apart in high school, and this has carried over to his start at Tennessee.
"Defensively, Kennedy has the ability to be an elite on-ball defender," Schwartz concluded. "He just needs to become more consistent—every possession. His hand speed and his foot speed are elite."
Earlier this year, Chandler was the only freshman to be named to the 20-man Bob Cousy Award Watchlist. Chandler also helped the USA Men's 19u Basketball team to win a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup over the Summer.