Tennessee Basketball: Vols senior class will leave a legacy on the program

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 5: Kyle Alexander #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers looks to pass during the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 5, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 72-60. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 5: Kyle Alexander #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers looks to pass during the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 5, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 72-60. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Volunteers have had one of the best turnarounds in college basketball over the last few seasons and the biggest reason why is because of the work of the senior class.

Senior Night for the Tennessee Volunteers was on Tuesday night. It was an emotional night for Vol Nation as they saw four players play in their last game in Thompson-Boling Arena. Not only was it an emotional night for the fans, but Vols senior Admiral Schofield was very emotional as well, and rightfully so, as this senior class has been through a lot during their four seasons on Rocky Top.

While these seniors have played for Rick Barnes throughout their career at Tennessee, Schofield and Kyle Alexander were primarily recruited by previous Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall. Both Alexander and Schofield committed to Tyndall but chose to stay once Barnes arrived on campus.

You can’t fault these guys for wanting to stay at Tennessee, especially after Tennessee landed a homerun hire in Barnes.

Despite a rough start in their first two seasons, their hard work has paid off and that is greatly displayed through their work in the last two seasons. Like all of the guys currently on the Tennessee roster, neither Alexander or Schofield were highly regarded by recruiting services when they arrived in Knoxville.

Both players have increased their numbers tremendously from their freshman season to their senior season and that’s showcased below:

Kyle Alexander

Kyle Alexander has shown tremendous growth in his four years on Rocky Top. In an article provided by WVLT, Rick Barnes quotes Alexander as looking like a “baby giraffe.” If you watched Alexander in his first two seasons in Knoxville, he was all over the place at times.

Alexander played just 11 minutes a game, averaging just 1.7 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. 30 games into his senior season, Alexander is averaging 7.6 points a game, while pulling down 6.6 rebounds per game. This season has also featured two of Alexander’s best games in a Tennessee jersey.

Alexander posted his career high in points back in December against Wake Forest, where he went 9-10 from the field on his way to 19 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds that day.

His best game of the season was against Missouri in early January though. He finished with 14 points on 6-8 shooting, but his performance on the boards was the most impressive part that game. He finished with 17 total rebounds, including seven offensive boards.

His play this season has grabbed the attention of NBA scouts, and rightfully so. He has NBA size and can shoot fairly well from beyond the arc which helps expand his game to the next level. His ability to run the court as a big man has also helped him expand his game.


Not only do you see a tremendous pass from Jordan Bone in this highlight above, but the way Alexander runs the court on this play is tremendous, and would definitely bode well in the NBA.

Admiral Schofield

It’s hard to find a player around the country that has developed their game more in their four collegiate seasons than Schofield.

You can easily see it in this photo and article provided by David Ubben, helping show the physical growth of Schofield.

During his first two seasons in Knoxville, Schofield saw a good bit of action but definitely had his flaws. In his freshman season, he saw 18.7 minutes of action and averaged just 7.6 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. During his sophomore season, his numbers barely grew and he only ended up starting two games compared to 22 games the year before, likely having to do with the three-game suspension he served that season.

Schofield took the next step going into his junior campaign. While he had his flaws early in his career, he also did show glimpses of the success he’s currently having. That showed throughout his junior season. He scored over 20 points in seven games last year, which increased his point total to 13.9 a game. His success last season saw him make the 2nd team All-SEC. He ended up testing NBA waters but came back to Rocky Top for his senior year with unfinished business.

Deservingly so, Schofield entered the year with a ton of hype surrounding him, and he’s proved his worth on numerous occasions this season. He is currently fifth in the SEC in scoring, as he averages 16.4 points a game. He’s sitting at 11th in the SEC in three-point percentage, shooting 39.4 percent currently.

Like Alexander, Schofield has posted some of his best games during his senior season. In the best game of his career, Schofield posted 30 points against No. 1 Gonzaga, hitting numerous clutch three-pointers to give the Volunteers the big win. He followed that game up with a double-double against Memphis, as he posted 29 points and 11 rebounds.

It’s easy to see that Schofield has propelled his game to the next level, and that shows in NBA Draft boards. In the most recent draft board posted by Sports Illustrated, Schofield is currently at No. 36.

The Volunteers are looking to win their first ever National Championship, and they will need these seniors at the forefront of that run.

Leaving behind a legacy

Both Alexander and Schofield will leave behind a legacy on the Volunteers basketball program. They went from a 15-19 season in their freshman year to a possible 30-win season in their final year on Rocky Top.

In a time where college basketball is dominated by the number of one-and-done’s going to the NBA, Alexander and Schofield can be a testament to guys across the country, showing that for some players, it helps to stay all four seasons, as they’ve grown both physically and mentally in the game of basketball.

These two players can also serve as a testament to recruits as well. Even though the Volunteers have landed 5-star recruits in the next two classes, it’ll show that it helps to stay within a program and grow as a team over the years, as this Tennessee program has shown during Barnes’ tenure in Knoxville.

Both players have established themselves as leaders during their career on Rocky Top. When it’s all said and done, both the basketball program and the fans of this program will look back at this senior class and the legacy they will leave behind.