Rick Barnes not placing ceiling on Kyle Alexander


Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes raved about freshman forward Kyle Alexander during a Tuesday night appearance on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone.

“Primetime” host Chad Withrow asked Barnes about the benefit Pilot Rocky Top League can have on UT players’ confidence. Barnes singled out the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Canadian.

“We are really excited, simply because he’s only been playing two years,” Barnes said. “He’s played a lot of soccer, so that tells you, one, that he’s got stamina. And he can run. He really can run as well as any guard that we have in our program. Terrific hands. He has a great knack to get his hands on a lot of balls. And he’s quick. But he also is a guy that, offensively, we are going to watch him grow up here. We are right now. Somewhat, each practice we are like surprised with the things he gets done and the way he does it.”

“He’s really learning the game for the first time. But the fact is he picks up things extremely well. In terms of his ceiling, I don’t know that we would want to put one on him. Anyone that is willing to work as hard as he works, and his body is going to change. It’s already starting to change. But from a skill set and those type of things, I’ve been really impressed with how well he can pick things up and how quickly you can move with him from one thing to the next.”

  • Barnes didn’t address the transfer of Memphis forward Austin Nichols directly, but he offered his stance on transfers in general, specifically the idea of blocking players from accepting scholarships from certain schools. (Nichols’ transfer restrictions initially included UT before the school dropped the restrictions following the family’s decision to hire a lawyer.)
    “I don’t think any kid should ever be denied to go wherever he wants to go,” Barnes said. “The only time I would say maybe there is an except not that rule is if there is a known fact some other school was tampering with him. Otherwise, I think every kid should have the freedom to choose any school he wants to go to. I don’t know that you can do it within the league, because I think there would be a lot of talking going on within the league during games and all that. But in some ways, that wouldn’t bother me because if a coach in this league wanted to leave and go to another university in the league, that would happen.
  • If you haven’t heard, playing in Nashville is important to Barnes.
    “I would like for us to play here every year if we could,” he said. “We’ve even put on the table possibly doing double-headers with other SEC teams. Because the tournament is here, they tell me it’s just a great event. So, we want to be here. And we are going to do it.”

You can listen to Barnes’ full interview here.