May 5, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
Tennessee granted releases to two freshmen on Monday, as new head coach Donnie Tyndall could move on without freshman guard Darius Thompson and freshman forward A.J. Davis.
Tyndall: Darius and AJ have asked for their releases to explore their options. We want guys that want to be here. We hope they will return.—
Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) May 05, 2014
Tyndall hopes the duo returns to Tennessee as both Davis and Thompson received minutes last season for the Vols.
The 6-foot-5 Thompson was a key reserve last season, as the backup point guard ran the offense off-the-bench and appeared in all 37 games for Tennessee, registering double-digit minutes in 33 of those contests. The light-shooting Thompson averaged 2.6 points, two rebounds, 2.4 assists and one steal per game in 16.4 minutes a game last season. Thompson also led the team in steals and was second in assists.
The 6-foot-9 Davis is the son of former NBA All-Star forward Antonio Davis and appeared in 25 games for Tennessee last season, but saw his minutes decline significantly during SEC play. Davis averaged 1.3 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in the 2013-14 campaign.
Although both Davis and Thompson should improve over the next few seasons, neither looked like a sure thing to be starters in the SEC based on their freshman seasons.
Thompson was serviceable as a backup ball handler because of his steadiness with the ball (34 turnovers in 620 minutes), but he only shot 38 percent from the field and 19 percent from the three-point line, so he has a long ways to go to be any kind of threat as a scorer.
Still, Thompson was the team’s only returning point guard and if both players opt to leave then Tennessee has six open scholarships for the 2014-15 season. Earlier on Monday, Tennessee announced the signing of JuCo guard Kevin Punter, but he’s more of an off-the-ball option for the Vols as Punter averaged 20-plus points per game last season at State Fair Community College.
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