The 2019-20 season was a bit of a letdown for the Tennessee Vols.

But that wasn’t exactly shocking. Tennessee lost a lot of talent from their 2018-19 team that went 31-6.

The Vols lost Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone — essentially the nucleus of their team.

To make matters worse this past season, Tennessee also lost Lamonte Turner to injury in December, which meant they had to use mid-year enrollee Santiago Vescovi in an important role.

But even with all of the adversity the Vols faced, they still finished the season as a bubble team.

It’s not what Vol fans wanted to see, but losing three key players (four if you count Turner) is hard to overcome.

As for next season?

Well, ESPN believes Tennessee will be one of the top teams in the nation.

ESPN’s early top 25, via Jeff Borzello, has the Vols at No. 14.

Here’s what Borzello says about Tennessee:

The Vols took an expected step back this season after the departure of three starters and season-ending injury to Lamonte Turner. But the 2020-21 campaign looks bright. Veteran stalwart Jordan Bowdenis gone, but that’s it. Four starters return, including three double-figure scorers: point guard Santiago Vescovi and forwards Yves Pons and John Fulkerson. Versatile wing Josiah-Jordan James is also back. Rick Barnes also has a loaded group of newcomers entering the program, led by five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, as well as ESPN 100 forward Corey Walker and Oregon transfer Victor Bailey Jr. Tennessee is going to be deep, experienced and versatile — and could move up the rankings as teams ahead of the Volunteers lose guys to the NBA draft.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Tennessee take a major step forward next season. Rick Barnes was essentially trying to find what worked on the fly this past season — that’s not a recipe for success.

Barnes will have all offseason to figure out which combinations work best with the roster he’s compiled.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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