Tennessee student Kennedy Chandler He will enter the 2022 NBA draft and forfeit his remaining college eligibility by hiring an agent, he told Mallika Andrews on ESPN’s NBA Today show on Tuesday.
“I will remain in the NBA draft and sign agent Ryan Davis of Rep 1 Sports,” Chandler told ESPN.
Chandler, 17th in the ESPN 100, was named to the All-SEC Second Team and Junior Team after averaging 13.9 points, 4.7 assists and 2.2 steals in 31 minutes per game this season.
Tennessee State won its first SEC Championship since 1979, with Chandler receiving the honors MVP. Chandler led the Vols defense that ranked third in the state, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, helping the team finish 27-8.
Chandler, a top 10 recruit from Sunrise Christian Academy, entered the college battle test, having led his high school team to the Geico National Championship Finals and then won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the U19 Basketball World Championships. He had some ups and downs during the first few months of the season, as Tennessee played a tough schedule and Chandler struggled at times against some of the best defenses he faced early on.
“I learned a lot this season, from start to finish,” Chandler said. “I knew it was going to be difficult and this coach [Rick] Barnes was going to set a tough schedule. I learned a lot, especially from that loss to Texas at the end of January, especially with not being in the game at the end. I feel like I really started growing after that, and that changed the type of player I’m with after a heart-to-heart encounter with TJ Ford.”
Chandler emerged as the top goalkeeper in college basketball in February and March, helping Tennessee win 13 of the last 15 games, while becoming a vocal leader, shooting 47% from a 3-point range, improving his mid-range game and playing Lock defense thanks to his speed, 6 feet and 5 wingspan.
“Adapting to the pace of the college game was the important thing early on. Coach Barnes made me watch a lot of Chris Paul and Tony Parker movies. He learned how to do different readings, and he understood that each team would have a different game plan. I am fortunate to have a close relationship with Ja Morant, which helped me. Being able to choose his brain about what he sees in the game and how he sees him. Also Trae Young, because we’re part of MoKan [Nike EYBL team] family. These two gave me valuable advice.”
Chandler attracts NBA teams thanks to his skill with the ball, his ability to play at different speeds and a quick first step, which allows him to get anywhere he wants on the ground. The improvements he’s shown as the season progresses as a shooter and defender raises his pitch as a potential in the NBA, as does the success he’s found at the college level.
“I want to show the NBA teams how strong I’m going to get through the pre-draft process,” Chandler said. “Being physically ready to play in the NBA, a 6-footer goalkeeper like me can play with anyone in the league. Just being able to get along, and being rational, that’s how I can separate myself in the process.”
Jonathan Jevoni is an NBA draft expert and founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a proprietary exploratory and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA, and international teams.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”