The Tennessee Volunteers were bringing back all of their starters from last season, until it was announced that point guard Trae Golden would be transferring from the university. Head Coach Cuonzo Martin states that it was due to academic reasons (including plagiarism), but many believe that Golden was forced out of Tennessee by Martin because of the lack of available scholarships. At this point, all of this is just a distraction from the true problem. Can Tennessee succeed without Golden at point?
Of course they can. Golden is an extremely talented athlete, but the Volunteers are far too talented all around to let one player affect them too negatively. With Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon down low, Jordan McRae shooting and scoring from all over the floor and Josh Richardson playing top notch defense, Tennessee will only need someone who can handle the ball up top. Extremely talented incoming recruit Robert Hubbs will be able to fill this role, as will sophomore Armani Moore.
The Volunteers will miss the depth that Golden brought with him. It would be nice for an experienced team to have a senior point guard, but Tennessee no longer has that luxury. Expect Martin to make do with what he has and the Volunteers to win the SEC.
Tennessee will have to compete with the Florida Gators and the Kentucky Wildcats at the top of the SEC, but the Volunteers beat both of these teams last season. Tennessee will have every opportunity to win the SEC. Golden will be missed, but he won’t cause the Volunteers to struggle next season.