Kennedy Chandler- SECT MVP

Tennessee freshman guard Kennedy Chandler celebrates after being named the SEC Tournament's MVP at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, March 13, 2022.

Vols All-SEC Freshman Kennedy Chandler declares for the 2022 NBA Draft.

Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler has declared for the 2022 NBA Draft and is hiring an agent, he announced Tuesday afternoon on ESPN’s NBA Today.

“I am staying in the NBA draft and signing with agent Ryan Davis of Rep 1 Sports,” Chandler told ESPN.

Chandler, a five-star recruit from Memphis, led the Vols in scoring with 13.9 points per game, assists per game with 4.7 and steals per game with 2.2 in his freshman season at Rocky Top. He started all 34 games and finished second on the team in minutes per game, averaging 30.7.

Chandler totaled 74 steals for the season, ranking second all-time on Tennessee’s single-season steal list. His 74 steals were the most ever by a Tennessee freshman in a single season.

The 6-foot, 171 pound guard led Tennessee in scoring 10 times and finished with double-digit points in 25 of the Vols’ 34 games, including three games with 20+ points. Chandler averaged 13.8 points, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 47% from the field in SEC contests.

“I learned a lot this season, from start to finish,” Chandler said. “I knew it was going to be hard and that (head coach Rick) Barnes would put together a tough schedule. I learned a lot especially from that loss to Texas at the end of January especially, with me not being in the game at the end. I feel like I really started to grow after that and that changed the type of player I am after a heart to heart I had with T.J. Ford.”

For his efforts, Chandler earned Second Team All-SEC and All-Freshman honors. He was just the fourth Vol ever to make the All-Freshman team.

Chandler was a key part of the Vols’ postseason run where they won the SEC Tournament for the first time since 1979. Chandler averaged 14.7 points and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 50% from three-point range during Tennessee's three wins in Tampa. He was named to the All-Tournament team as well as the Tournament’s MVP.

After the Vols’ season-ending loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament nearly three weeks ago, Chandler did not comment on if he had made a decision about his future. Josiah-Jordan James answered for him.

“With all due respect,” James said, “he won’t be answering any questions about his future today.”

Chandler was also asked about his future following the Vols’ regular-season finale win against Arkansas.

“I don’t want to think about it right now,” Chandler said at the time. “I want to get better every single day in practice, get ready for the SEC Tournament next week, get ready for March Madness and continue to get wins. That’s a decision I’ll make whenever the season’s over.”

Barnes praised Chandler’s work ethic at the season’s end. The uber-talented freshman never once made the season about himself – something a prospect of his caliber easily could have done.

“He never, ever made it about him,” Barnes said. “I don't think he ever walked in acting like I'm a one and done player. I don't think that at all. He came in wanting to win.”

Chandler will now prepare for the NBA Draft on June 23. He is currently projected as a late first-round pick, and he would become the third Vol selected in the first round in the last two years.

“I want to show NBA teams how much stronger I will get through the pre-draft process,” Chandler said. “Being ready to play with physicality in the NBA, a 6-foot guard like me can play with anybody in the league. Just being coachable, cerebral, that's how I can separate myself in this process.”

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