KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes announced Wednesday that 6-2 point guard Jordan Bone and 6-6 forward Jalen Johnson have submitted signed National Letters of Intent to UT.
Bone, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and Johnson, who hails from Durham, North Carolina, both plan to enroll next summer. They will be freshmen with the Vols in 2016-17.
“We feel great about what each of these guys brings to our program,” Barnes said. “One key thing is they are both winners—they’ve both won state championships. Just knowing what it takes to win is really valuable.
“Jordan is a true point guard who really has a feel for how to play the position. He’s an excellent passer, and he’s got exceptional speed and quickness.
“With Jalen, his athleticism and ability to make shots really stands out. He is going to bring tremendous size and length to our backcourt.”
Bone currently attends The Ensworth School in Nashville, where he is coached by Ricky Bowers.
He earned Division II-AA All-State honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) after averaging 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals as a junior in 2014-15. Bone helped lead the Tigers to state semifinals in 2015 and also played on Ensworth’s back-to-back state championship squads as an underclassman in 2013 and 2014.
“I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to become a Vol,” Bone said Wednesday. “I did a lot of praying about it. We’ve got some family tradition there, with my brother playing there. Coach Barnes’ résumé is incredible. It’s close to home so my family can see me play. There are so many factors that made Tennessee the best choice for me—those are just a few.”
Bone’s older brother, Josh Bone, lettered for the Vols from 2009-11 and was a member of Tennessee’s 2010 Elite Eight team.
Jordan Bone played AAU ball with the Team Thad program, coached by Norton Hurd.
With Jordan Bone’s signing, Tennessee is poised to add to its history of Nashville natives playing key roles in the Vols’ hardwood success. In addition to his brother, that legacy also includes mid-state standouts such as Charles Hathaway, Mike Jackson, All-American Ron Slay and Brandon Wharton.
A senior at basketball powerhouse Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina, Johnson brings outstanding athleticism to the wing position. He is coached at Wesleyan by Keith Gatlin.
After Johnson helped lift the Trojans to the NCISAA 3A state championship game as a junior last season, Wesleyan Christian landed at No. 21 in the final USA TODAY “Super 25” national rankings. He averaged 12 points and six rebounds for that team, which featured multiple Division I prospects.
He also was a member of Wesleyan’s state championship team in 2014.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of the whole environment at Tennessee,” Johnson said Wednesday. “Everyone there is really welcoming, I know I’m going to get a great education, and I’ve got a chance to play basketball at a really high level there. I also really like the fact that it’s close enough to home that my family can still be a part of my life and education.
“Obviously, Rick Barnes is a coach who can definitely help you get to the next level. But you have to be willing to put in the work, and I’m definitely willing to put in that work.”
Johnson is the first North Carolina native to sign with the Tennessee basketball program directly out of high school since forward Rashard Lee – also from Durham (Hillside High School) – in 1995.
Johnson—who credits Robert St. Clair with playing a critical role in his basketball development—played his AAU basketball with Team Wall, coached by Kendrick Williams.
Johnson’s mother, Nikki Berry, was a member of the track and field team at the University of North Carolina in the early 1990s, competing in the hurdles and high jump.