Kennedy Chandler's NBA Draft night slide led to him actually returning home to Memphis. With the 38th pick in the draft, the Spurs selected Chandler but had already traded the draft rights to the Grizzlies. Now, less than two days later, you can get your first look at the VFL point guard in a Memphis uniform.
Chandler becomes the sixth Vol in the last four years to be taken in the NBA Draft and the 55th in program history. Chandler is the first VFL to be selected in the second round since Admiral Schofield in 2019. The Vols produced a pair of first-round picks in 2021 with Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer.
Chandler was a first-round selection in almost every mock draft leading up to draft night, making his fall to the second round a surprise. However, the fall results in Chandler returning home, as the Memphis native will begin his NBA career with his friend and long-time supporter, Ja Morant. Morant also FaceTimed Chandler shortly after he was selected by the Grizzlies. Needless to say, Chandler is ready to make teams pay for passing him over because of his height.
Chandler's selection makes him the 30th NBA Draft pick to have been coached by Rick Barnes, six of them being Vols. Chandler is the 13th second-round selection for Barnes in his 35-year head coaching career, and he is the eighth one-and-done selection in Barnes' coaching career.
Chandler was arguably the top point guard in America during the second half of the season.
"I think Kennedy's biggest improvement, since the Texas game, his defense has gotten so much better," Vols head coach Rick Barnes said before the SEC Tournament. "He has become more locked in defensively and because of that he has gotten so much better with it. His preparation, knowing at that spot all eyes are on him, and if you are going to be out front and do the things that we need that position to do it takes a great deal of preparation. Kennedy, since the Texas game, has been a different player too in terms of his defense. The fact is, he has improved a lot."
Volunteer Country's Jack Foster contributed to this feature