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Inside Story on Brandon Huntley-Hatfield Choosing Tennessee

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield had plenty of power programs interested. Kentucky, Kansas, and Baylor were just a few of the big names seeking BHH’s combination of size and scoring. The 5-star power forward was originally a top 10 player in the Class of ’22, and the best at his position. Late this week he decided to reclassify to ’21, and play for his home state Volunteers. So what were the reasons? BHH’s hometown newspaper spoke to him about his decision. This is what Huntley-Hatfield told the Leaf-Chronicle (paywall).

Persistence. Tennessee was early to recruiting Huntley-Hatfield and never let up. Syracuse entered the fray late, and even though SU was constantly calling BHH over the last few weeks, he went with a school that was always there.

“They just stayed on me. And it was coach Barnes who I spoke with most of the time. That left a big impression on me. Schools like Kentucky and Louisville, they reached out but it was never really like Tennessee.” – Huntley-Hatfield, Leaf Chronicle

Minutes immediately. By reclassifying for ’21 and choosing Tennessee, he gets to take advantage of the departures from the Vols. Rick Barnes will lose seven players from a team that went 18-9 and 10-7 in the SEC before a first-round exit against Oregon State in the NCAA Tournament. SU would have certainly created minutes for a 5-star player, but the rotation is pretty solidified for next season.

“I think they’re looking at me coming in and being an immediate player and I’m trying to help the team win any way I can,” Huntley-Hatfield said. “There’s also some great pieces coming in with this class so I’m excited about that.” – Huntley-Hatfield, Leaf Chronicle

Great recruiting class. Tennessee has now inked perhaps the greatest class in program history. They’ve signed five-star guard Kennedy Chandler, four-star guard Jahmani Mashack and landed four-star center Jonas Aidoo. Syracuse has Benny Williams in ’21 and grabbed Kamari Lands for the Class of ’22, which will hopefully lead to one of the best hauls in history as well. But Tennessee’s class was already stocked.

“I think they’re looking at me coming in and being an immediate player and I’m trying to help the team win any way I can. There’s also some great pieces coming in with this class so I’m excited about that.”

The NBA ASAP. Huntley-Hatfield has goals for going high in the NBA Draft, and he wants to make that happen right away. The Tennessee staff told him what he wanted to hear (that he has lottery potential) and pointed to one of the best players ever from 14 years ago.

“They’ve told me I have lottery-pick talent. That was huge to hear. I feel like that’s what I’m working toward and if that happens, if I get to that point, after one year at Tennessee, that’ll be something I’ll pursue. You look at a guy like (Kevin) Durant, that’s someone coach Barnes coached (at Texas). That’s a goal of mine.”

Proximity. He’s a Clarksville, TN native, about a 3:15 minute drive to Knoxville.

“He wanted to do this where he was most comfortable, surrounded by lifelong friends and his family. He was born in Clarksville and this is where he calls home.” – Antionette Huntley, Brandon’s mom

Syracuse seemed to make significant inroads with BHH as the months wore on, but ultimately he decided on the Vols. Now the Orange turn their attention to the other elite recruits in the ’22 class.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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