At the end of the semester, many questioned whether the Tennessee men's basketball team could even put a team on the court.
Last week, the team started summer workouts.
Tennessee lost starters Jerrone Maymon, Jordan McRae, and Antonio Barton to graduation. Junior forward Jarnell Stokes forwent his senior year to enter the NBA draft. Freshman guards A.J. Davis and Darius Thompson transferred to other schools, leaving just five players on the roster.
However, Head Coach Donnie Tyndall went to work to put together a team.
He signed six players to letters of intent, picked up two graduate transfers and two walk-ons.
"We have a team," Tyndall said to the media last week.
The team that Tennessee currently has will look to senior guard Josh Richardson to be a leader.
"I think Josh will be one of the better players in the SEC," Tyndall said. "He played with a ton of confidence at the end of the year and we want him to carry that over into his senior season where he will be one of our captains and certainly be expected to be one of our leaders and one of our best players.
"He has to lead. If he doesn't lead our team I'm going to kick him off. It's that simple. He's a guy who so far has embraced that role."
Richardson is coming off a tremendous breakthrough in his performance at the NCAA Tournament. Richardson averaged 19 points in four games, shooting 62 percent and scoring a career-high 26 against Mercer in the round of 32.
"I'm just trying to do the same thing I did at the end of last year," Richardson said.
"I felt like it was a big eye opener for what I can do at this level and I just can't relax," Richardson said. "I have to be aggressive. The tournament was win or go home and that is how we have to treat every game this season."
Richardson said he is much more confident in himself heading into his senior season.
"My confidence is sky high right now," he said. "Especially knowing that he (Tyndall) has put some pieces around us."
Sophomore guard Robert Hubbs wavered on whether to return to Tennessee. He ultimately decided to stay on Rocky Top.
"It was very tough," Hubbs said.
Hubbs considered transferring to another school for the remainder of his career, but ultimately decided to stay because of a relationship with Tyndall and his staff.
" ... They came to my house and talked to my family," Hubbs said. "I just decided to stay here at Tennessee. I thought that was the best decision for me."
Hubbs was sidelined the majority of last season with a nagging shoulder injury.
According to Tyndall, Hubbs was a game or two beyond the limit to earn a medical redshirt.
"I promised his family on our part that we would do everything we can to at least look into getting that medical redshirt year back which would be huge and it would be fair for the kid," Tyndall said.
"I'm very anxious," said Hubbs. "I'm ready to get out there and show all the Tennessee fans what I can do."