Phillips chose the Volunteers over Auburn, although the G League Ignite team had emerged as an option late in the process. He had originally committed to LSU in October but was released from his letter of intent in March after coach Will Wade was fired following an NCAA notice of allegations accusing the program of five Level I violations.
A 6-foot-7 small forward from South Carolina who attended Link Year Prep (Missouri), Phillips is ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 100 for 2022 and is Tennessee’s sixth five-star recruit in the past four classes. He slots in as the No. 6 small forward in the class.
Phillips averaged 19.6 points per game for Upward Stars on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit last summer then helped lead Link Year Prep to the championship game of the Geico Nationals tournament last month. He averaged 15.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in three Geico Nationals games, including 20 points and six rebounds in a quarterfinal win over Oak Hill Academy (Virginia).
“Phillips is a long and skilled wing with the one-and-done talent that the NBA covets,” said Paul Biancardi, ESPN’s national recruiting director. “However, he will have to raise his talent and work habits to maximize his enormous upside. He plays both inside and out effectively. Phillips has been loaded with potential at a young age. His versatility at both ends and physical measurables make him a desirable recruit.”
Phillips immediately upgrades Tennessee’s frontcourt and is likely to play a starring role immediately. Coach Rick Barnes and the Volunteers are expected to return Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi on the perimeter and versatile Josiah-Jordan James on the wing. Phillips and James should form a forward tandem capable of creating matchup problems for most opponents.
They also get back Olivier Nkamhoua, who started 22 games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, and starting center Uros Plavsic. Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key averaged 17.2 points per game two seasons ago before sitting out last season and will add further punch to the backcourt.
The Volunteers ranked No. 19 in the most recent update of ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25.