A pair of former Tennessee Volunteers were selected in the first round of the NBA draft Thursday night.
Shooting guard Keon Johnson was taken 21st overall by the New York Kicks and Point Guard Jaden Springer went 7 picks later to the Philadelphia 76ers at 28th overall.
However, Johnson won’t play in the Big Apple. The Knicks traded the 21st selection to the Los Angeles Clippers for the 25th selection in the 2021 draft, Houston’s Quentin Grimes, and a future second round pick.
Johnson, an All-SEC Freshman Team selection in his lone season on Rocky Top, averaged 11.1 points per game (second on the team) while appearing in all 27 contest during the 2020-21 season.
Springer, a fellow All-SEC Freshman Team pick, led the Vols at 12.5 points a game in 25 contests in orange.
He became Tennessee’s highest NBA Draft pick since Tobias Harris was selected 19th overall in 2011.
Tennessee was just one of two programs in the nation with multiple first-round selections this year. Johnson and Springer’s selections also mark the first time since 1977 that two Vols were taken in the first round.
Among active head coaches, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has developed the sixth-most NBA Draft picks. Over the last 12 years, 12 players coached by Barnes have been selected in the NBA draft. Johnson and Springer bring Barnes’ total number of first-round draft picks to 17. Since 1990 Barnes has produced 29 total NBA draft picks.
Pons to sign with Memphis
Former Tennessee Small Forward Yves Pons was not among those drafted Thursday night but he will get an opportunity to battle for a spot in the NBA.
According to ESPN Pons is expected to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year averaged 5.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game, starting 70 times in 116 appearances. He’s eight on Tennessee’s list of blocked shots with 137.