James named to SEC Community Service Team
Three Tennessee basketball players have earned postseason honors from the SEC’s head coaches, the conference announced Monday.
For the second straight year, Santiago Vescovi was a first-team All-SEC selection, while Zakai Zeigler earned second-team acclaim. Zeigler was also included on the All-Defensive team, while Julian Phillips was an All-Freshman team selection.
Pairing this year’s first-team selection with last season’s, Vescovi is just the fifth Vol since 2000 to earn multiple All-SEC first-team selections from the league’s coaches.
Vescovi’s inclusion on this season’s team marks the fifth time that a Vol has been named first-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches during the Rick Barnes era—joining Grant Williams (2018, 2019) and Admiral Schofield (2019).
For the second straight year, Vescovi finished SEC regular-season play as the league leader in 3-point percentage, shooting .387 (46 of 119) from beyond the arc during conference games. He also finished second in the league in 3-point makes per game with 2.71.
On the defensive end, Vescovi finished eighth in the league with 1.7 steals per game during conference play.
Overall in 17 SEC games this season, Vescovi averaged 13.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Zeigler finished conference play averaging a league-leading 6.5 assists per game with 111 total assists—29 more than the next-highest-ranking assist-maker despite having played just 16 full games. Zeigler also ranked second in assist/turnover ratio with a 2.92 mark.
Defensively, Zeigler ranked sixth in the league with 1.8 steals per game.
Named to the SEC All-Defensive team for the second straight season, Zeigler is just the third Vol to earn multiple All-Defensive team honors—joining Josh Richardson and Yves Pons—and first to do it by his sophomore season.
According to Synergy, opponents shot 21-for-106 (.198) during SEC play when Zeigler was the primary defender.
Phillips’ selection to the All-Freshman team gave the Vols at least one selection on the team for the third straight season, as Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer earned the honor in 2021 and Zeigler and Kennedy Chandler were selected in 2022.
A Battle 4 Atlantis All-Tournament team selection and one-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree, Phillips has been a steady force for the Vols this season—averaging 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Phillips’ rebounding average is the best by a Tennessee freshman since Williams in 2017, while his 1.9 offensive rebounds per game rank second on this year’s squad and third amongst SEC freshmen this season.
Phillips also leads the Vols in free throws made (91) and attempted (111) despite missing four games in February due to injury. The freshman has started all but two games in which he has appeared.
James Named to SEC Community Service Team
Josiah-Jordan James was also selected as Tennessee’s representative on the SEC Community Service Team, the league announced.
Since arriving on campus in 2019, James has been active in several different service projects in the Knoxville community, serving at the Emerald Youth Foundation, Beardsley Community Farm and at events with UT’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
This past summer, James participated in a week-long service trip to Rwanda with UT’s VOLeaders Academy—a cultural exchange trip that marked the culmination of a year-long leadership curriculum.
During each of the last two years, James has partnered with Tennessee Donor Services to promote organ donor registration throughout the state—one of the many ways he has ingratiated himself within the Knoxville community, which has also included making frequent public appearances at speaking engagements.