Phillips Selected 35th Overall in NBA Draft, Lands with Bulls

Phillips Selected 35th Overall in NBA Draft, Lands with Bulls

Tennessee basketball freshman Julian Phillips was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 35th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft Thursday night, with his contract rights ultimately acquired by the Chicago Bulls.

In his lone season with the Volunteers, the Blythewood, South Carolina, native saw action in 32 games, making 25 starts, and averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting .411 from the field in 24.1 minutes per game. Phillips scored in double figures 13 times and grabbed 10 or more rebounds three times while helping lead UT to the Sweet Sixteen.

Vols who have previously suited up for the Chicago Bulls include Tom Boerwinkle (1977-78), Tony White (1987-88) and C.J. Watson (2012-13).

Seven Vols have now heard their names called in the last five NBA Drafts—the most picks over a five-year span in program history. Tennessee’s seven picks over that span are tied for fourth-most among all schools nationwide.

Phillips also is the fifth one-and-done draft selection in Tennessee program history, following Tobias Harris (2011), Keon Johnson (2021), Jaden Springer (2021) and Kennedy Chandler (2022).

Phillips this past season was shooting .347 from the field entering SEC play but improved his field-goal percentage to .500 spanning the 14 league games in which he appeared, leading to SEC All-Freshman Team honors.

He dominated during Tennessee’s thrilling overtime win vs. USC at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November, scoring a season-high 25 points on 7-for-13 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. He also shot 10-for-12 at the free-throw line to power UT past the Trojans. Phillips made the Battle 4 Atlantis All-Tournament Team after averaging a team-best 13.3 points in the Vols’ three wins.

At the NBA Draft Combine in May, Phillips posted the best standing vertical leap (36 inches) and best max vertical leap (43 inches) among all combine participants. It marked the third straight year that a Tennessee Volunteer—trained by Director of Sports Performance Garrett Medenwald—posted the highest max vertical leap at the combine. 

The number of NBA Draft picks produced by Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes now rises to 31 dating to 1990. Among active college head coaches, Barnes has developed the fourth-most NBA Draft picks. Over the last 14 years, Barnes has seen 14 of his players selected.

Barnes has now coached nine one-and-done players as a head coach. Of Barnes’ eight one-and-done players already in the NBA, four have won at least one NBA championship.

-UT Athletics

Julian Phillips / Credit: UT Athletics

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