It was snatched up Sunday by Memphis transfer Antonio Barton.
The 6-foot-2 point guard instantly fills a backcourt void for a UT team desperate for a ballhandler. Trae Golden, a two-year starter at point guard, left the program on May 7.
“I’m so excited,” Barton told The Associated Press. “I’m just ready to get started as quick as possible.”
He also told the AP that he sees plenty of opportunities for playing time.
A phone call from the News Sentinel to Barton was not returned.
UT officials can’t publicly comment until a signed Letter of Intent is received from Barton.
Barton, who graduated from Memphis in three years, will have one year of eligibility remaining and can play right away for the Vols. The NCAA permits graduates to transfer to a different school that offers a degree program not offered at their previous institution.
A native of Baltimore, Barton selected the Vols over offers from Maryland, Texas A&M and Kansas State. Numerous schools, including Syracuse, courted him after he announced in April his desire to transfer.
As a junior at Memphis, Barton averaged 5.6 points and 1.1 assists in 16.7 minutes per game and missed nine games in the second half of the season due to a hairline fracture in his right foot. His numbers have steadily dropped over his career, going from 6.6 points and 1.6 assists in 21.9 minutes as a sophomore from 8.2 points and 1.7 assists in 24.6 minutes as a freshman.
That said, Barton, a strong defensive players and a career 41.6 percent 3-point shooter (100-240), will likely be handed a starting role and 20 to 30 minutes per game at Tennessee. He will share the backcourt with reigning first team All-SEC selection Jordan McRae, combo guard Josh Richardson and incoming five-star freshman Robert Hubbs. UT also signed combo guard Darius Thompson.
In four career games against UT, Barton averaged 13.3 points in 22.8 minutes, making 18 of 30 shots. His 21-point performance against the Vols in the 2011 Maui Invitational was the second-best outing of his time at Memphis.
Barton is the brother of Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Will Barton. The two played alongside each other for Memphis coach Josh Pastner in 2010-11 and 2011-12 before Will Barton declared for the NBA draft.
Will Barton broke the news on Twitter of his brother’s intentions to transfer to Tennessee, tweeting on Sunday, “My bro Antonio Barton has decided to attend the university of Tennessee for his senior year where he will be allowed to play right away.”
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him on at Twitter.com/BFQuinn