Tennessee Basketball: Vols make big frontcourt splash with top-40 JP Estrella

JP Estrella is one of the best true centers in the 2023 recruiting class. And now he’s set to go to the SEC as a member of Tennessee Basketball.

One of the top risers in the 2023 class has been JP Estrella, a 6’11 and 210-pound center out of the northeast that has been an elite player on the AAU circuit. He started out as a 6’2 guard heading into high school but how grown considerably since.

Like all bigs that’s happened too, Estrella is more versatile and skilled than the typical center and is also a talented three-point shooter. His all-around game and scoring ability have him as a must-get prospect for power conference teams.

His recruitment, while focusing on a few teams this Summer, was reportedly down to Syracuse, Tennessee, and Iowa. And on Friday, a decision was made.

It’s another big recruiting win for Rick Barnes and the Vols, the fourth commit in the 2023 class. It includes top-30 wing Freddie Dilione, along with a pair of forwards in Tobe Awaka and Cade Phillips. Estrella is a center and another addition to a frontcourt that lost some depth this offseason after John Fulkerson graduated and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield transferred out.

That leaves just three true forwards on the roster for the upcoming season, including Olivier Nkamhoua, Jonas Aidoo, and Uroš Plavšić. Look for projected “one and done” NBA prospect and five-star small forward Julian Phillips to play some small-ball four since the Vols have plenty of backcourt depth.

Estrella honestly has a good chance at immediate minutes as a freshman at the center spot. Plavsic may move on after next season and Aidoo is a former top-50 prospect in the 2021 class and didn’t play much as a freshman. He’ll either become a key piece in the frontcourt or be a transfer candidate as well if Aidoo simply can’t get on the court.

JP Estrella continues Tennessee’s strong recruiting Summer, now with a top-10 class for 2023. They may not be done either, likely to grab at least one guard as well. Coach Barnes is one of the top recruiters in the game and continues to show it.