By this point, we all know what Tennessee has to bring to the table. The Vols have playmakers everywhere, plenty of guys who can shoot the last shot, and a whole lot of experience and maturity.

Obviously Grant Williams is the biggest star, Admiral Schofield is the emotional leader, and Jordan Bowden just seems to have that WOW factor when he scores. Tennessee’s success in March may very well lie in the hands of Jordan Bone though.

Solid post play definitely helps, but elite guard play is what wins in the big dance. Just look at last year’s Final Four.

Loyola Chicago’s best player was Clayton Custer, their starting point guard.

Michigan had a trio of good perimeter players in Charles Matthews, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Duncan Robinson (who now is listed as a small forward for the Miami Heat).

Kansas was led by one of the best point guards in the nation in Devonte Graham (now playing for the Charlotte Hornets).

The tournament champion, Villanova, had three elite guards in Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Donte Di’Vincenzo, all of whom are currently in the NBA.

I’m not saying that Jordan Bone needs to play like a legitimate NBA prospect, but he does need to keep up his consistent high level of play that we’ve seen throughout the SEC portion of the season.

There’s no reason to think he can’t.

Following the Florida game on Saturday, the Gators’ coach, Mike White, had a plethora of good things to say about Bone.

“He’s the best point guard in our league,” said white. “Why? Because he’s leading the best team in the country.”

White went on to give a laundry list of attributes that make Bone so good including his defense, his ability to apply offensive pressure with and without the ball, and much more.

White may have whiffed on Bone’s best contribution to his team though – his leadership.

When people think of the Vols’ leaders their minds jump right to Williams and Schofield, but when Schofield was asked about Bone, he was quick to talk about Bone as a leader.

“The way he controls our team and controls our offense, he’s just a leader out there,” said Schofield. “He’s really matured in that.”

That maturity is something that Bone has improved on since the beginning of the season as well, which brings us to another exciting thought about Bone – we haven’t even seen the best Jordan Bone yet.

Bone really struggled against Florida when the Vols went to Gainesville because of their defensive pressure they put on him. On Saturday though, Bone faced the same defense and he performed so well that the Gators dropped back their defensive pressure by midway through the second half.

Bone adjusted and improved in a very little amount of time and his adaptability will just let him get even better.

“He’s just settling in,” said Schofield on Bone. “He’s got a 40-inch vertical that many people don’t even know about… The sky is the limit for him.”

Rick Barnes also believes that the best of Bone is yet to come. “Jordan is going to keep getting better,” said Barnes. “When he’s pushing the ball and doing what he does, that’s when we’re at our best offensively.”

Bone is a focused player who plays with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. He’s a quiet leader who may not quite get the attention he deserves. He’s exactly what Tennessee needs.

So if the Vols’ dreams of a title really do lie in the hands of Jordan Bone, those are pretty good hands to set in.

Cover Photo: Randy Sartin- USA TODAY

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