When Rick Barnes was hired as Tennessee’s head coach, he decided to honor the scholarships of all holdovers from the previous staff. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to start bringing in his own players. Barnes picked up Lamonte Turner, a 6’1”, 190-pound point guard from Florence, Alabama, as a late signee after taking the job.
Only Turner wasn’t academically eligible as a freshman and had to sit out 2015-16. That might not have made a huge difference: Turner would have been backing up Kevin Punter either way, and Tennessee finished 12th in the SEC. They weren’t even close to making the NCAA Tournament.
But with Punter gone, the Volunteers have three freshmen — including Turner, who’s a redshirt freshman — looking to replace him. And Turner might be the best of the bunch. ESPN rated Turner as a four-star recruit and the #33 point guard in the class of 2015; 247 Sports tabbed him as a three-star recruit and the #26 point guard in the class.
Turner looks like more of a scoring point guard in the mold of Punter than he does a pure distributor. That could work for Barnes, though at 6’1” it’s not clear how Turner’s shooting will translate to the SEC. Some shorter guards have difficulty adjusting to the college game, where they’ll see bigger defenders across the board. Still, Turner is quick enough to create off the dribble, so we will have to wait and see how this translates.
How does he fit onto Tennessee’s roster? Between Turner and fellow freshmen Jordan Bone and Kwe Parker, Rick Barnes has several options at the point to replace Kevin Punter. There’s no guarantee of playing time here, of course, but Turner’s talent and a lack of established contributors mean that he should get plenty of minutes as a redshirt freshman.