Top Kentucky basketball transfer target Chaz Lanier makes his college choice. It wasn’t UK.

One of Kentucky basketball’s top targets in the NCAA transfer portal has made his college decision. And it wasn’t the Wildcats.

On Friday evening, North Florida transfer Chaz Lanier committed to Tennessee. A 6-foot-4, 199-pound guard, Lanier previously played four seasons at North Florida and was viewed as one of the top offensive players to enter the portal this offseason.

Lanier took three recruiting visits to potential landing spots: BYU, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Ultimately, it was the Volunteers that secured a commitment from the high-scoring Lanier, who averaged 19.7 points per game last season while making 106 3-pointers. Lanier was a 44% 3-point shooter for a North Florida team that went 16-16 overall.

During the 2023-24 season, Lanier posted career-best marks in points per game (19.7), rebounds per game (4.8), assists per game (1.8), steals per game (0.9), field goal percentage (51%), 3-point shooting percentage (44%) and minutes per game (33.3).

The widely utilized Synergy Sports service rated Lanier as the most efficient offensive player in all of college basketball last season.

Originally unranked as a high school prospect in the 2020 recruiting class out of The Ensworth School in Nashville, Lanier scored 25 or more points on eight occasions last season and 30 or more points on four occasions.

Prior to last season, Lanier’s career-best season scoring average was 4.7 points per game.

A career 86.4% free-throw shooter, Lanier’s production and playing time exploded last season compared to the previous three seasons of his college basketball career. He made 18 starts combined across the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons before starting 31 of North Florida’s 32 games last season for head coach Matthew Driscoll.

Chaz Lanier emerged as one of the most efficient offensive players in college basketball during the 2023-24 season.
Chaz Lanier emerged as one of the most efficient offensive players in college basketball during the 2023-24 season.

Lanier has had a busy offseason, even before his commitment to Tennessee.

On March 16, Lanier announced that he would be declaring as an early entrant for the 2024 NBA draft while maintaining his final year of collegiate eligibility.

On April 24, Lanier entered the transfer portal. He also took part in the G League Elite Camp, a two-day event held on May 11-12 that gave NBA draft prospects the chance to play in front of NBA and NBA G League scouts, coaches and front office executives.

Lanier will join Tennessee with one season of eligibility remaining.

According to college basketball statistician Evan Miyakawa, Lanier ranks as the No. 323 overall transfer portal player, as of Friday afternoon.

247Sports ranked Lanier as the No. 10 transfer overall during this year’s transfer portal cycle.

After not getting Chaz Lanier, what’s next for Kentucky basketball?

Make no mistake about it, missing out on Lanier is a blow to the construction of head coach Mark Pope’s first Kentucky basketball roster.

The Wildcats have, so far, filled 11 of their 13 scholarship spots. A volume-scoring guard has emerged as a key need for a UK team mainly comprised of quality defensive players and talented shooters acquired from the transfer portal.

With Lanier now off the board, all eyes will turn to another player who could fit that scoring role: former BYU guard Jaxson Robinson.

A 6-foot-7, 190-pound guard, Robinson previously played one season each at Texas A&M and Arkansas before spending the last two seasons under Pope at BYU.

Robinson led BYU in scoring last season with a career-best 14.2 points per game and shot 42.6% from the field, 90.8% from the foul line and 35.4% from 3-point range. He played in 33 games last season for the Cougars, mainly in a bench role, and averaged 26.5 minutes played per contest.

He was named the 2024 Big 12 Conference Sixth Man of the Year.

But there’s no guarantee Robinson will be playing college basketball next season.

Robinson initially declared for the 2024 NBA draft on April 23, before entering the NCAA transfer portal on April 27. He also took part in the 2024 NBA draft combine, which took place May 12-19 in Chicago.

Currently, Robinson is listed as the No. 66 overall prospect in ESPN’s NBA draft rankings. This projects Robinson as going undrafted.

Players who entered the NBA draft with remaining NCAA eligibility, like Robinson, have until May 29 to remove their names from consideration and return to school.

So far, Pope has the following 11 players in place for the 2024-25 Kentucky basketball team:

First-year guards Collin Chandler (a former BYU signee), Travis Perry (a former Lyon County High School star) and Trent Noah (a former standout at Harlan County High School and a former South Carolina signee).

Second-year center Brandon Garrison (who played last season at Oklahoma State).

Third-year guard Otega Oweh (who previously played two seasons at Oklahoma).

Fourth-year forward Ansley Almonor (who previously played three seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson).

Fifth-year guards Koby Brea (who previously played four seasons at Dayton), Lamont Butler (who previously played four seasons at San Diego State) and Kerr Kriisa (who previously played at Arizona and West Virginia).

Fifth-year forwards Amari Williams (who previously played four seasons at Drexel) and Andrew Carr (who previously played two seasons each at Delaware and Wake Forest).

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