By Alex Norman
The Tennessee Volunteers are a team with lots of star power.
Junior forward Grant Williams likely will win the SEC player of the year award for the second year in a row.
Admiral Schofield has become a potential first round NBA draft pick in this, his senior season.
But Jordan Bone is opening a lot of eyes as well, and just might be the best point guard in the nation.
The Nashville native was recently named to the 2019 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List. LSU’s Tremont Waters is the only other SEC player on that list.
Bone was named SEC co-Player of the Week a couple of weeks ago after averaging 18.5 points, 9.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game during wins over South Carolina and Texas A&M.
“You get to control the game and it’s just amazing when you feel like you have the game in the palm of your hand,” Bone told the SEC Network’s Tom Hart after the win over the Aggies. “You get to control the pace and break defenses down. And Coach Barnes does a great job and gives me confidence to go out and run this team.”
“I remember when (assistant) Coach (Rob) Lanier went to go watch some other players play and he came back and said, ‘Coach, I saw this kid that I think is going to be better than all of them.’ And he was talking about Jordan Bone,” said Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. From the time that we went to see him play and met him, there was no doubt that that was the commitment that we wanted to make to him above all of the other players at the time we were recruiting. Watching his growth over the last two years — and I don’t think it’s any great news that I’ve probably been as hard on him as any player that I’ve ever coached — to watch him now start to connect the dots and do the things that he’s doing and starting to see the game, it’s been really neat… He’s always wanted to learn, he’s never been against teaching. I’m not sure he’s ever truly understood his talents the way that we see it. I don’t think he’s ever understood the game other than when we do things… I think now he’s starting to understand why it’s all happening and why it’s all supposed to come together… He’s worked hard and he’s been through a lot of ups and downs, but he’s stayed with it… I think that he knows that his best basketball is ahead of him and he’ll continue to work the way that he has worked up to this point.”
Through the Vols’ first 23 games, Bone averaged 13.3 points (third on the team) and 6.6 assists (first on the team) per contest. He’s fifth on the Vols in rebounding as well.
Perhaps the most important statistic is this one. Bone is leading the team in time played with 32.4 minutes per game.
“My teammates give me tremendous confidence. My coaches believe in me so much, and it has been a process getting to this point.”
As the number one team in the nation, the Vols have been challenged time after time, but still sit at the top of the college basketball mountain. It’s something he and his teammates have gotten used to. “We just understand that we have each other,” said Bone. “We understand that it is going to be a great atmosphere everywhere that we go, and we have to understand that if we are together and continue to do what we do day in and day out we are gonna be just fine.”