Bernard King and Ernie Grunfield made plenty of history at Tennessee.

The Ernie and Bernie Show led Tennessee to a SEC regular season championship in 1976-77 as well as the program's first two NCAA Tournament Round of 32 appearances before being drafted in the first round of the 1977 NBA Draft.

Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer joined those legends in regards to that final achievement Thursday inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, becoming the second pair of UT teammates to be picked in the first round of the same draft.

Johnson was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 21st overall pick after a trade with the New York Knicks while Springer was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 28th overall pick.

Johnson and Springer give Tennessee five selections in the last three drafts, the most for the program in a three-year span since 1982-84 — when the draft was 10 rounds instead of its current two-round format.

Springer and Johnson arrived on campus as the third- and fourth-highest prospects in program history, respectfully, and spent their only season at Tennessee flashing the potential that intrigued NBA teams.

The duo were the Vols two leading scorers during the 2020-21 campaign with Springer averaging 12.5 points per game and Johnson scoring 11.3. Springer also averaged 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 46.7% from the floor, 43.5% from behind the 3-point line and 81% from the free-throw line.

Johnson, a top-15 draft prospect by most outlets, set an NBA combine record with a 48-inch vertical leap, exhibiting the elite athleticism that scouts believe will allow him to be a plus-perimeter defender in the league. However, the Shelbyville native does have holes in his offensive game — most notably his lack of an outside shot as evidenced by the 27.1% clip he shot from behind the 3-point line at Tennessee — that attributed to a slide on draft night.

Springer was a much better two-way player at Tennessee but a question of whether the offensive skillset that allowed him to be successful in college translates to the next level prevented him from getting picked earlier.

2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons went undrafted but is expected to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Follow @Troy_Provost on Twitter for more from sports editor Troy Provost-Heron. He can be contacted at

Sports Writer

Troy takes a lead on high school sports coverage and is the beat writer for UT men's basketball for The Daily Times. He's also a regular contributor for The Daily Times on The Sports Page radio show.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.