Desmond Oliver Must Get Tennessee To Play in Johnson City

Marky Billson
3 min readMay 1, 2021

With John Fulkerson coming back and a potentially sympathetic ear in Rick Barnes, there will never be another chance like this

Marky Billson

One of the first tests new East Tennessee State head men’s basketball coach Desmond Oliver will have is putting together a schedule.

And early indications are he is failing.

Oliver told reporters on Thursday he was working on scheduling Georgia and Tennessee on the 2021–22 Buccaneers schedule.

Makes sense. Oliver has been an assistant at both schools.

Except the game with the Vols would likely be played in Knoxville, and if ever there was a time for the Tennessee Volunteers to play in Johnson City again, it is 2021.

Popular Vols starting forward John Fulkerson, a Tri-Cities native, has announced he will return to Tennessee for a sixth season.

So from a public relations standpoint it makes sense for the Vols to give Fulkerson a game in his home metropolitan area.

The player is loyal to us? We’ll be loyal to him!

With 150 points next season Fulkerson will have scored 1,000 points in his college basketball career.

All the while the Tennessee basketball brand will be reinforced throughout the state, just as Bruce Pearl did to elevate the program’s reputation when the Vols played in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Memphis, and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Tennessee head men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes helps Oliver get established in Johnson City, which helps Barnes’ reputation as well.

Oliver was Barnes’ assistant at Tennessee for six years.

Tennessee gets a winnable but still challenging game that will help the program in the long run; much more than the home cupcake games against Appalachian State, South Carolina-Upstate and Tennessee Tech did last season.

Barnes merely has to agree to a game in Johnson City in 2021 for two more in Knoxville in 2022 and 2023. That’s a legitimate proposal that likely captures the Bucs at their weakest in Johnson…