Rick Barnes had quite the telling statement on 5-star freshman forward Julian Phillips Tuesday afternoon.

The Vols are back in preseason practice less than a month out from exhibition games. Barnes met with media Tuesday to discuss what the Vols are looking like out on the court in practice.

He said coaching Phillips was like ‘a dream.’

The Vols should be as good, if not better, than last season’s squad. Tennessee retains Josiah-Jordan James, Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi from last year, adding experience to key pieces such as Olivier Nkamhoua and Jonas Aidoo.

Tennessee also added Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key and retains Uros Plavsic as a 7-footer at center. Key and Phillips are the most likely newcomers to see time, though BJ Edwards, a 4-star local product from Knoxville, could see some work in a thin true point guard role.

Adding Phillips to the mix should be a scary sight for the rest of the SEC.

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Tennessee sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2020. Tennessee was the first SEC state to legalize sports betting.