The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Johnson, Springer selected in first round of NBA draft

60 days ago
Tennessee Athletics

For the second time in three years, multiple Tennessee Volunteers heard their names called during the NBA Draft, as Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer were both selected Thursday night.

A total of five Vols have been picked over the last three NBA Drafts.

Johnson was the first Vol off the board, becoming the highest-drafted Tennessee player since 2011 when the Los Angeles Clippers (via the New York Knicks) took him with the 21st overall selection.

Seven picks later, Springer was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 28th overall pick. Tennessee was just one of two programs in the country with multiple first-round selections this year.

Johnson and Springer's selections also stand as the first time since 1977 that two Vols have been selected in the first round.

The number of NBA Draft picks produced by Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes now rises to 29 dating to 1990. Among active head coaches, Barnes has developed the sixth-most NBA Draft picks. Over the last 12 years, Barnes has seen 12 of his players selected.

Johnson and Springer bring Barnes' total number of first-round draft picks to 17. Barnes has now coached seven one-and-done players as a head coach. Of Barnes' five one-and-done players already in the NBA, four have won at least one NBA championship.



Coming off a successful, one-year stint in Knoxville, Johnson became Tennessee's highest NBA Draft pick since Tobias Harris was selected 19th overall in 2011.

Johnson was Tennessee's 10th first-round NBA Draft pick in program history and also became the seventh UT player with remaining collegiate eligibility to be selected in the NBA Draft.

The Shelbyville, Tennessee, native continues a lengthy history of in-state talent ascending to the highest level of the sport via Rocky Top. Others Vols from Tennessee recently selected in the NBA Draft include Marcus Haislip (1st round, 2002), Vincent Yarbrough (2nd round, 2002), Jarnell Stokes (2nd round, 2014) and Jordan Bone (2nd round, 2019).

Though Johnson was officially selected by the New York Knicks, the pick was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Johnson is set to become just the second Vol to ever play for the Clippers, joining Harris, who had a brief stint with the organization from 2017-19.

An SEC All-Freshman Team selection, Johnson was Tennessee's second-leading scorer-both overall (11.3 ppg) and in SEC play (12.1 ppg).

He appeared in all 27 of the Vols' games and led the team in fields goals made (111) and attempted (247), shooting .449 overall and .453 during conference play.

During the NBA Draft Combine in June, Johnson set the event's all-time record in the max vertical jump with a leap of 48 inches, shattering the previous record of 45.5 inches set in 2001.



Also a 2021 SEC All-Freshman Team honoree, Springer led the Volunteers in scoring overall (12.5 ppg) and in SEC play (12.7 ppg) during his one season in Knoxville.

In addition to his scoring numbers, Springer averaged 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals, while shooting .435 from 3-point range in 25 games with the Vols.

With a 30-point performance against Georgia in February, Springer became just the third Vol freshman since 2005 to score 30 or more points in a game.

Springer is the eighth Tennessee player in program history to be selected by Philadelphia, though only four Vols have suited up for the organization: Garland O'Shields (1947-48), Reggie Johnson (1982-83), Josh Richardson (2019-20) and Harris (2018-present). Harris started a team-high 74 games for the Sixers last season and was the team's second-leading scorer with 19.5 points per game.

Springer followed Johnson as Tennessee's 11th first-round draft pick in program history, and he became the eighth Vol with remaining college eligibility ever to get drafted.

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Springer follows in the footsteps of previous Queen City Vols to become NBA Draft picks, a list that includes SEC Players of the Year Tony White (2nd round, 1987) and Grant Williams (1st round, 2019).