Knoxville, Tenn. — The Tennessee basketball program will make its Canadian debut next season as the Volunteers are set to face Washington as part of the James Naismith Classic on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Toronto.
The Volunteers and Huskies will meet at Scotiabank Arena, home of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. It will be the first-ever meeting between the programs, and the game will be administered by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The inaugural James Naismith Classic tripleheader event also features a game between Buffalo and Harvard and a matchup of Rutgers and St. Bonaventure.
Tickets for the James Naismith Classic will go on sale to the general public on Friday, May 31 via all Ticketmaster locations and the Scotiabank Arena box office. Game times and television broadcast information will be released at a later date.
In their second season under the direction of head coach Mike Hopkins, the Huskies won the 2019 Pac-12 regular-season championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Washington finished with a 27-9 (15-3 Pac-12) record.
Hopkins has led UW to back-to-back 20-win seasons and has claimed consecutive Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors.
“We’re appreciative of being included in the James Naismith Classic and are looking forward to competing against a really well coached Washington program that we have a lot of respect for,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “I know from experience that these events hosted by the Naismith Hall of Fame are great experiences for our players and fans. Having the opportunity to showcase Tennessee basketball in Canada is a big deal. Canadian basketball continues to showcase tremendous growth and outstanding coaching while producing world-class players.”
Next season’s Tennessee-Washington clash will be UT’s first meeting with a Pac-12 opponent since facing Oregon in the 2016 Maui Invitational. Tennessee is 18-11 all-time against current members of the Pac-12.
Vols head coach Rick Barnes owns a 30-22 career record against current members of the Pac-12. Washington is the only Pac-12 school he has never faced.
Dr. James Naismith, known as the inventor of the game of basketball, was born in Almonte, Ontario on Nov. 6, 1981.
“Without Dr. James Naismith, the game we celebrate and cherish may not exist,” President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame John L. Doleva said. “We are very proud to honor him with the inaugural James Naismith Classic in Ontario at Toronto’s iconic venue, Scotiabank Arena. The Hall of Fame is a global museum, honoring basketball greats from countries around the world, and we’re excited to be hosting six teams in Canada this fall.”
The Tennessee-Washington clash is believed to be the first time a University of Tennessee athletic team has ever competed in Canada.
Tennessee has had three all-time men’s basketball lettermen from Canada (all from Ontario), most recently forward Kyle Alexander (2015-19).
Basketball development in Canada has exploded in recent years, and the country is now a top producer of elite talent. A total of 18 Canadian players have been selected in the NBA Draft in the past decade.
And several Canadian standouts have blossomed into stars at the NCAA level in recent years, including names such as R.J. Barrett, Luguentz Dort, Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.