Even though his shooting percentage was miserable and he sometimes struggled to get the ball to the team's best players where they needed it to score, Trae Golden was the lone true point guard on Tennessee's roster.
As a result, it's a gut punch to the Vols that the junior will transfer at the end of spring semester.
Golden produced an erratic junior season, averaging 12.1 points and 3.9 assists this past season even though his shooting percentage plummeted to 38.3 percent and his percentage from behind the arc dropped below 30 percent. He also wasn't reticent to call his own number despite the poor shooting, attempting 95 threes and taking more shots than promising big man Jarnell Stokes.
A pass-first point guard with a more consistent jump shot would be a better fit for a Tennessee team that returns Stokes and Jeronne Maymon in the frontcourt and emerging perimeter scorer Jordan McRae in the backcourt. The trouble is the Vols don't have a scholarship point guard of any kind on their roster and would probably start McRae and talented incoming freshman shooting guard Robert Hubbs in the backcourt if the season started today.
The best option for Tennessee might be trying to find a transfer point guard who is on track to graduate this spring and would be eligible to play his final season at Tennessee immediately. The Vols should be an attractive destination for a playmaking point guard who fits that description since playing time certainly will be available.
It's unclear why Golden is transferring since neither he nor coach Cuonzo Martin offered specifics in Tennessee's release. Martin wished Golden "nothing but the best" and Golden said only that he had "a great three years at Tennessee"
"I really appreciate the staff and all the great support from Vol fans," Golden said. "I’m definitely going to miss my teammates. I want them to have nothing but success in the future."
One sign that the decision may have been out of Golden's hands was the reaction of his close friend forward Tobias Harris. The former Vols forward tweeted that Golden wanted to stay and that it wasn't his decision.
Tweeted Harris, "Vol Nation y'all don't want to know how I feel about all of this .... SMH!!"