Former 5-Star Recruit Will Play As A Walk-On After Pulling Out Of The NBA Draft

A basketball rests on a gym floor.


Josiah-Jordan James was once a highly touted member of the 2019 recruiting cycle, landing five-star status from ESPN. Now, he’ll be a walk-on.

On Wednesday, the guard made his decision on whether to enter the NBA or return to school. The Tennessee star has elected to come back for a fifth season in Knoxville, spurning the draft.

He announced the news via social media with a Kobe Bryant inspired post.

James’s high school recruitment came down to Tennessee and Clemson, though he also held offers from Michigan State and Duke, among others. Ultimately, he chose the Vols.

That decision has paid off as UT has found itself in the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons, including a run to the Sweet 16 last year.

His return bolsters a roster that should be one of the SEC’s best in 2023, though his somewhat surprising decision caused a bit of a hangup due to scholarship availability.

Tennesse had seen Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler, and four other roster members from ’22 return. The Vols also signed a quartet of high school players while bringing in three transfers.

That meant that all 13 of the team’s scholarship spots were spoken for prior to James’s return. As a result, the most highly touted prospect in that 2019 recruiting class will now play as a walk-on.

Now, that’s not to say he won’t earn some dough through Tennessee’s NIL collective. Still, it’s a testament to James’s happiness in Knoxville.

Over four seasons as a starter, the guard has averaged nine points and six boards a game. He’s notched double figure scoring numbers over each of the last two campaigns while also being known for playing a stingy style of defense.

With Josiah-Jordan James returning in 2023, the Vols will have a chance to build on a 25-win season as they look to make an even deeper run in the Big Dance.