Distributing the minutes won't be nearly so simple this season. That's because five newcomers - UNC Wilmington transfer John Fields, Marquette transfer Jeronne Maymon, freshman Tobias Harris, freshman Jordan McRae and freshman Trae Golden - will have dramatic impact on the playing rotation.
Fields, a 6-9, 230-pound shot-blocking specialist, will push 6-10, 270-pound senior Brian Williams for playing time in the post. Sophomore Kenny Hall (6-9, 225) played the post last winter but appears likely to see more action at power forward in 2010-11.
Harris, a 6-9, 210-pounder rated America's No. 1 power forward prospect by Scout.com, projects to start as a freshman. That leaves junior Renaldo Woolridge (6-10, 220), Hall and senior Steven Pearl (6-5, 235) battling for playing time in reserve.
Maymon, exceptionally agile for a 6-6, 240-pounder, projects to give junior Cameron Tatum (6-6, 200) quite a battle for the first-team job at small forward. McRae (6-5, 185) has the length and athleticism to be a phenomenal fit in Tennessee's uptempo game. He'll be a major factor at the position sooner or later ... probably sooner.
Hopson (6-7, 205) returns as the starter at shooting guard but the picture behind him is seriously muddled. Sophomore Skylar McBee (6-3, 190) is a streaky shooter who also is hoping to see action at the point. Golden (6-1, 190) has scoring potential but appears better suited to the point. The afore-mentioned McRae has explosive offensive abilities but might need a better jump shot to excel at the 2 spot.
As for the point, flashy senior Melvin Goins (5-11, 195) is the heir-apparent to 2009-10 starter Bobby Maze. Goins' skills as a defender and penetrator are ideal for UT's fast-paced system but he tends to play out of control at times. That could open the door for fellow senior Josh Bone (6-3, 195), who is far less dynamic but also far less turnover-prone. Golden could get some meaningful minutes at the point, and McBee is a possibility.
That said, here are one man's projections for 2010-11 playing time:
POST: Brian Williams 20 minutes, John Fields 15, Kenny Hall 5
POWER FORWARD: Tobias Harris 15 minutes, Kenny Hall 10, Renaldo Woolridge 10, Steven Pearl 5
SMALL FORWARD: Cameron Tatum 20 minutes, Jeronne Maymon 15, Jordan McRae 5
SHOOTING GUARD: Scotty Hopson 25 minutes, Skylar McBee 10, Jordan McRae 5
POINT GUARD: Melvin Goins 20 minutes, Josh Bone 10, Trae Golden 10